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Test appeals may cost Pounds 10 each

Schools may be charged for unsuccessful appeals if they contest the judgments of the new external markers who will grade national curriculum tests at 11 and 14.

Officials from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers were surprised to be told of the proposal at a meeting last week at the Department for Education.

Gillian Wood, assistant general secretary at the ATL, said: "I think it will come as a shock to schools because up until now everything that has been said is that all the arrangements including the postal costs are to be free to schools." The fee would be refunded in the case of successful appeals.

The Government is to consult next month on arrangements for external marking of national curriculum tests, which is being introduced next year at an annual cost of Pounds 8 million in response to complaints about teacher workload.

It is thought any charge to schools for an unsuccessful appeal could be in the order of Pounds 5 to Pounds 10 per pupil.

Last summer, less than a quarter of secondary schools reported their national curriculum test results to the DFE. The proportion of schools reporting results at 14 were 24 per cent for maths, 23 per cent for science and 20 per cent for English. At key stage 1, just over half of schools submitted results. However, with only the National Union of Teachers continuing the test boycott, take-up of the tests was significantly higher than in 1993.

School Curriculum and Assessment Authority officials believe they have enough information for this year's KS3 tests to form the baseline for judging standards in future years. Next year, the first year KS2 tests will be mandatory, will form the baseline for judging standards at 11.

Tests at seven have been going on since 1991. However, with changes to the English curriculum for infants, results from 1996 onwards will not be comparable with previous years.

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