pound;60,000 bill is a poor result

25th June 2004 at 01:00
Anyone in doubt about the impact of the huge expansion of exams in schools should visit Aylesford comprehensive in Warwick.

From early May to early July, the gym and drama studios of the 1,020-pupil secondary are out of service as Year 9 youngsters sit key stage 3 tests, then 350 pupils take GCSEs, AS and A-levels.

The resulting avalanche of paper means the school has had to establish a special secure room in which to store thousands of completed scripts.

Exam fees have increased by 22 per cent, from pound;49,000 to pound;60,000 in just two years. Sue Dudley, headteacher, said this was driven partly by the school's decision to offer more vocational exams, such as vocational A-levels, which are more expensive than academic assessments.

Pupils were re-sitting more exams and taking more half-GCSEs in new subjects such as religious education and citizenship.

However, the fees bill is not the only one. Since last year, the school has taken on two part-time staff to process exam entries and assessment-related data, at an estimated cost of pound;25,000.

It also claims to spend pound;10,000 on exam costs related to special needs, including having two adults present when one pupil needs to have an exam read out to them.

The school is also paying 12 part-time staff pound;5.50 an hour to invigilate, adding up to pound;6,000.

Ms Dudley said that as many as 15 A-level students had to have exams moved this year because of timetable clashes.

In each case, an invigilator had to follow them around for up to a day, to ensure they did not speak to other students who had taken the paper.

Ms Dudley said: "It's a huge operation, which seems to go on interminably.

It is a shame that we are so involved in assessment, when teaching and learning should be the focus."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today