Exams bill doubles to #163;302m

27th May 2011 at 01:00

Schools' exam fee bills have virtually doubled in just seven years, new figures from the qualifications watchdog show this week.

A total of #163;302.6 million was spent on exams by secondaries in England in 200910, up from #163;154 million in 200203 Ofqual has revealed.

Exam bills have expanded at nearly twice the rate of schools' total running costs over the period, according to the regulator's report and the rate of increase is becoming steeper.

Brian Lightman, Association of School and College Leaders general secretary, said "quite a few" schools now spent more an exams than they were on learning resources.

The exam bill rise is despite a fall in the cost of most A-levels in 200809 when the number of modules were reduced from six to four.

Prices per module have seen an uninterrupted rise in the last four years and four-module A-levels now cost more than their six-module versions did just three years ago.

GCSE fees rose above inflation over the last four years.

In December, Ofqual advised schools to work as consortia to bargain fees down.

Robert Cox, AQA director of finance, said it was "sensitive" to the impact of fees on schools and kept them as low as possible. "This coming year, we will be absorbing a lot of the costs ourselves," he said.

Paul Steer, OCR director of partnerships, said the board's qualifications are "generally cheaper than equivalents" provided by other major awarding bodies.

An Edexcel spokesperson said: "The price of the majority of our GCSEs and A-levels has risen in line with or below inflation for the past five years."

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