Thirteen things you need not be afraid of...

29th April 2005 at 01:00
The National Assessment Agency welcomed us back from the Easter break with Circular 14, containing advice on the management and administration of national tests for schools with pupils in Years 6, 7, 8 and 9.

Headteachers are asked to consider taking the following actions, as "good practice", to safeguard the materials; there are 13 in all. I reproduce these "tips" below:

* Re-seal the boxes and store the papers in a secure and lockable location;

* Use a high-quality lock wherever possible (a five-lever lock is a good example);

* Limit access to the storage room wherever possible;

* Ensure the keys are kept in a secure place, ideally in a lockable key cabinet;

* Ensure key usage is controlled and a register is used to sign keys in and out;

* Ensure spare keys are numbered and available;

* Conduct a 10 per cent visual check of seals on a daily basis;

* Conduct a 100 per cent visual check of seals on a weekly basis;

* Consider installing a chart on the door of the storage room to document all access and all checks are carried out;

* Ensure that the headteacher carries out at least two spot-checks during the pre-test and test period if at all possible;

* Ensure all those that handle the papers understand the sensitivity of the materials;

* Ensure that the exams officertest administrator has briefed a reserve person in case heshe is unable to be present during the test period, and;

* Ensure there is a reporting procedure in the event of a problem, such as lost or stolen keys.

Now, after the fourth bullet point, I thought Ted Wragg was winding us up.

A 10 per cent visual check? Does that mean I keep half an eye on them?

These procedures would not be out of place in the Bank of England, where at least a justification might be made for the "value" of some of the items therein.

Has the NAA ever heard of reducing the bureaucratic burden? I am surprised it has not suggested we pop in at weekends to check that all the "seals" are still intact and that there are no dodgy teachers hanging around with paper knives secreted upon their persons.

There is also the patronising suggestion of having a "reserve person" briefed - are teachers or bursars incapable of opening a box and handing out test papers? Albeit at short notice.

I shall just add these handy hints to my list of 25 things a headteacher should not haveto do.

J G Twort. Headteacher. Holy Family primary school. Coventry Road. Small Heath. Birmingham

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