MPs blame 'interfering Government' for Sats debacle

24th July 2009 at 01:00

Last year's Sats marking fiasco, which saw more than a million test papers returned late, was the fault of "interference" and "micro-management" by the Government, MPs said yesterday.

Giving its conclusions in a report this week, the Commons schools select committee laid the blame at the door of the Department for Children, Schools and Families. It added that exam bodies must be given more independence and freedom.

The report said the DCSF placed "undue constraints" on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, leading to "confusion about the arrangements for delivery of the results". It recommended that the new Qualifications and Curriculum Delivery Authority be afforded a far less prescriptive approach.

It also raised "serious concerns" over the role of DCSF observers in the QCA and described as "totally unacceptable" their presence on the board of Ofqual.

Barry Sheerman, chairman of the committee, said that while his panel of MPs had endorsed Lord Sutherland's report and recommendations, his report took evidence from all relevant parties and in particular Ken Boston, former chief executive of the QCA, who resigned after the marking shambles.

"We have identified flaws in the department's management of its relationship with QCA," Mr Sheerman said. "We urge the Government to do everything possible to ensure that this summer the same mistakes are not repeated. We intend to monitor closely the work of Ofqual to make certain its independence as a regulator is beyond doubt."

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