Do we have the right expertise at Ofqual?

13th July 2012 at 01:00

Mr Gove desires to exhume, along with O levels, exam boards with effective monopolies. It is worth recalling the extent to which pre-1990s boards conducted themselves with Soviet-style secretiveness, a refusal to admit mistakes and disdain for their customers. But a free market in examinations has undoubtedly thrown up problems of its own: alleged grade inflation, varying standards and the collusion of boards and publishers in the production and endorsement of often poor, hastily written but supposedly official textbooks. Why have these problems not been addressed by Ofqual, the exam regulator? The answer may be that it lacks the expertise.

Few members of Ofqual's board seem to have sustained experience of working with examiners and examinees. As was clear from application forms for a recent round of appointments, the experience Ofqual seeks is that of the boardroom not the classroom. Those selected include chief executives and directors in telecommunications, livestock marketing and healthcare information. The only ones who might be seen as representing teachers and their pupils are a university vice-chancellor and the chairman of the Independent Schools Council. Who actually made these appointments? Mr Gove did.

Andy Connell, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria.

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