Repeat KS3 fiasco feared

27th May 2005 at 01:00
Disorganised examiner training wastes teachers' time. Warwick Mansell reports

Complaints about the "shambolic" organisation of training for key stage test examiners have raised the spectre of another KS3 English marking debacle.

One prospective marker reported having to make an 11-hour round-trip for a training event, only to discover it had never been scheduled to take place at that venue.

Edexcel, which has won an pound;80 million contract to administer the tests from this year, is under intense pressure to run marking smoothly.

Last year, an administrative shambles surrounding KS3 English led to the resignation of the head of the National Assessment Agency.

Johanna Derry, 25, wrote to The TES setting out a tale of woe after she volunteered to mark the tests for the first time.

Miss Derry, from Fleetwood, Lancashire, was scheduled to attend a training event in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on April 30 and told that training materials would arrive 10 days in advance.

But they did not, despite repeated calls to Edexcel. On the day before the training, she rang the board asking whether she should attend, and was told not to.

Her training was re-arranged for Sunday May 15. Four days before this, the materials had still not arrived, but exam scripts began arriving at her home.

When Miss Derry rang the board, it told her she should attend even if the relevant materials had not arrived, giving her details of the venue in Newcastle.

She spent five-and-a-half hours travelling by train, staying overnight in a hotel. But when she turned up the next morning, there was no sign of the training.

After two more phone calls to Edexcel, the board called to say that the Newcastle event had been cancelled and markers asked to go either to Nottingham or London. But she had not been on the list to be contacted.

The board, which will pay her pound;120 train expenses and hotel bill, said she would also be paid pound;300 for the training days she had missed.

But more than 600 scripts were mistakenly sent to her home which she will have to return.

Miss Derry said: "I spent virtually the whole weekend on this, for no reason. I'm totally fed up."

Several TES website contributor teachers voiced similar complaints with KS2 and 3 English and other subjects. One had been given a contract, then told that she was not needed as a marker, then that she was. She was told to turn up to training in London. But when she did, it was for a maths, rather than English. "What a shambles," said the teacher.

Another said training meetings in Solihull and London had been postponed because of venue problems, while another said markers had been told a meeting in Bristol had been cancelled, even though it went ahead.

An Edexcel spokesman acknowledged that there had been problems this year with some training venues being "overbooked", and that not all markers had received their training materials on time.

He said: "We regret very much the kind of experience that Johanna Derry has had."

He said that as more than 11,000 markers for KS2 and 3 had been trained through around 100 training sessions, the board was confident that the process was working well and that schools would get the right results on time this year.

FE Focus 6, Letters 26


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