THE LAST thing most A-level and GCSE candidates wanted to see this summer was the exam paper they had agonised over just weeks before, according to an analysis of a Government-inspired scheme to improve the system.
More than 275,000 scripts were returned to schools this August but few students were interested in seeing them.
Plans to extend the scheme nationally and return 13.5 million scripts to pupils next year could be dropped after the schools and exam boards which trialled the scheme complained the expense may outweigh the benefits, according to an evaluation by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
Ministers hoped the experiment would reduce the number of exam appeals by allowing pupils to see their mistakes.
While the scheme was praised for making the exam process more transparent and examiners more accountable, schools and exam boards were unsure whether a widespread scheme was necessary.They preferred a limited scheme which would only return scripts to pupils on request to be read under the supervision of a teacher.
The pilot revealed that only pupils who failed to get the grades they needed found it useful to see their scripts and most only made full sense of the paper if a teacher analysed it with them.
However, most teachers examined their pupils' scripts and were reassured by the quality of marking. More than 80 per cent said the scripts helped them prepare to teach the syllabus the following year. Teachers who took part in the pilot were concerned it could encourage more appeals, although there was no evidence that this had occurred following the pilot.
The exam boards complained that all but a return-on-request scheme would be unmanageable and highlighted the difficulty of dispatching scripts to schools while still processing exam results.
The boards have been hostile to the idea since it was first mooted last year arguing it would be too expensive and time-consuming to administer.
Meanwhile, a legal wrangle over the ownership of exam scripts has still to be resolved. The boards and the QCA have taken legal advice over who actually owns the scripts and the copyright to pupils' work after concerns about the pilot.
A QCA spokesman said: "We are aware of the copyright issues involved and they are very complex. We are working to clarify the legal position and will report back on this issue in our advice to the Secretary of State in December."