Examiners get their own institute
The National Institute of Assessment is to be launched next month as the centrepiece of a pound;100 million revamp of the exam system and a vital ingredient in moves towards more teacher assessment in schools.
For the first time, its backers claim, anyone working in assessment in schools, colleges and workplaces will have an organisation to represent them and allow them to share good practice.
The institute, which will open in September, aims to raise the status of examiners and assessment experts, who may be able to become members or fellows.
The new body will run training courses and a "world-class" facility for research and development of assessment. Comparisons with learned societies such as the Royal Institute of Physics or the Chartered Institute of Engineers are already being made.
The institute has been developed by the National Assessment Agency, a new division of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority set up to modernise the exam system.
It comes amid calls for greater recognition of teachers' examining skills, particularly as England's pupils are among the most tested in the world.
The Secondary Heads Association has campaigned for years for teachers to be given the chance to become chartered examiners.
Ken Boston, the QCA's chief executive, has backed the idea, and Mike Tomlinson, who is currently leading the Government's inquiry into the future of secondary qualifications, is also a supporter.
It is unclear whether members of the new institute will be called chartered assessors. This would depend on approval from the Privy Council. Other details of the institute's workings, such as whether members could command increased salaries or better hourly pay rates for marking exam papers, are also yet to be decided.
But while SHA is a keen supporter of the new institute, others remain cautious.
Gwen Evans, joint deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, warned that members of the new body would need to demonstrate that they would be independent of the Government.
New institute FE Focus 1