Marking conscription, no thanks

8th June 2001 at 01:00
Bill Morton, chief executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and possibly others of his colleagues, may well consider that marking is "a duty central to (a teacher's) job" (TESS, last week). I am sure a large number of practising secondary teachers would beg to disagree.

Our job is to teach our pupils and to prepare them for external exams. Any marking of candidates for whom we have no teaching or other responsibility is entirely divorced from our main employment.

It is bad enough that we are compelled to mark (unpaid) the largely discredited internal assessments which are at least for our own pupils, and are carried out as part of classwork.

Have those who advocate the conscription of secondary teachers to this task really thought this through?

Teachers are employees of the local authority, not chattels who can be hired out against their wishes to the SQA or anyone else. Under the McCrone setlement, primary and secondary teachers will enjoy parity of conditions of service. These SQA proposals would drive a coach and horses through this.

What sanctions would the SQA envisage for those unwilling conscripts who, by accident or design, marked scripts inaccurately, lost scripts, failed to receive scripts, had scripts stolen or failed to attend a distant markers' meeting?

Appeals to what the SQA hierarchy is pleased to call "professionalism" are really a bit much. I find it impossible to construct a meaningful sentence with both the words "professional" and "SQA" in it.

Of course, if the SQA was prepared to remunerate and treat markers properly, there would be no marking recruitment crisis.

It speaks volumes for the mindset of the SQA hierarchy that it appears to prefer coercion and conscription to decent treatment of those in its employ.

Rory Shand

Holborn Road


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