I've been shafted by shoddy marking

13th November 2009 at 00:00
Huw Thomas Headteacher, Emmaus Catholic and CoE Primary School, Sheffield

In 1992, I was forcibly ejected from our local shopping mall and informed I was banned for life. I was with a group protesting at a government roadshow promoting a new initiative called Sats.

Still contemptuous, I have nevertheless dutifully targeted, boosted and coached out every last mark possible for these tests.

Now I'm angry again, having been shafted by shoddy marking.

The past three years have seen a near twentyfold increase in individual reviews for English, with professionals throwing back 5 per cent of scripts. Unlike last year, when the culprits admitted 16 per cent of scripts were duff work, this year it has been slashed to 9 per cent - a slap in the face to professionals who know a level 4 when they see one.

The QCDA warns against such year-on-year comparisons because of changes to the review process. If, like me, your school gets hounded by graphs that show year-on-year changes in attainment, this smacks of inconsistency. If, like me, you are trying to manage a school's incremental improvement, this is undermining.

And if, like me, you are angry, then there is one course of action still open: don't pay.

If a plumber left my school with a job as botched as this, I'd not pay the bill. Given its drive for quality and role as guardian of the best efforts of 11-year-olds, the QCDA has so much more to answer for.

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