'Still no sign of our Sats results'

3rd October 2008 at 01:00
Marking fiasco rolls on as schools continue to wait for pupils' test scores, reports Warwick Mansell

Schools are still waiting for their Sats results nearly three months after they were promised. And many test markers have still not been paid.

In one local authority, Bristol, none of its 18 secondaries has received all its key stage 3 results. Seven of them - 40 per cent - are appealing against their marks.

The news comes in the week when the Government was forced to put back the publication of school league tables because of problems with the Sats results.

Teachers have complained to The TES that some pupils still do not know the results of tests taken last May. Council leaders are also angry about the problems with this summer's marking, run by the US testing firm ETS Europe, although nationally most results have now been returned to schools. ETS was supposed to have supplied them by July 8.

Matthew Brown, head of Blackfen School for Girls in Kent, still does not have the KS3 results for 102 of its pupils in maths, and 19 in science.

The marking system has been unable to distinguish between the results of two pairs of pupils with the same names. Their scripts are being sent back to the National Assessment Agency for confirmation.

Mr Brown said prospectuses had had to go out last week with the KS3 results blank. He said he was reconsidering whether it was worth staging booster classes, which had run for a term this year at a cost of more than pound;2,000.

"There are several aspects to this," he said. "One is the workload on support staff - our data managers have been working their socks off trying to sort things out. Then there is the setting of targets for pupils. We don't have the KS3 data to do that. We also spent a lot of time and money on booster classes from January, and at the end of the day pupils have not had their results."

Bowland High in Grindleton, Lancashire, is missing all its pupils' science results. It was told by ETS that scripts had not been marked and it did not know where they were.

In Sutton, Surrey, all schools have now had their results. But the council said 114 KS2 papers were being sent back for re-marking, affecting one in every 17 of the authority's 2,000 pupils.

Tony Brett Young, the council's executive member for children, said: "The marking system this year has been an absolute disaster and we share the frustrations of our headteachers, who are appalled."

ETS Europe this week again put back the date by which it promised to pay markers. Originally, it said it would pay up by August 15. Then markers were promised money by last Friday. This week, the date slipped to October 10.

Some markers have complained that they are still owed hundreds of pounds.

ETS's five-year contract to mark the national tests was terminated in August. The company has said it has lost pound;50 million from its involvement this year.

Kelly Southcott, head of communications for ETS Europe, said most outstanding payments would be made by October 10 and that another final payment date would be announced shortly after that day.

She added: "We apologise to markers who have not been paid at this stage, but they will be paid."

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