Catalogue of errors led to exams fiasco, says report

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The Independent Online

A catalogue of blunders leading to the fiasco over this summer's national curriculum tests for 11 and 14-year-olds will be exposed in an official government report to be published today.

The former chief inspector of schools, Lord Sutherland, will paint a grim picture of administrative chaos as ETS Europe – the American firm charged with administering the tests – sought to deliver results to schools.

Extra teachers who volunteered to help sort out the mess found there was little direction from the company as to what they could do to help, the inquiry was told. The report will also question the awarding of the five-year £19.5m contract to the American firm, amid evidence that the Government did not properly research the firm's abilities. Both ETS Europe and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (and in particular its National Assessment Agency, which was responsible for overseeing the contract) face censure.

Ken Boston, the chief executive of the QCA, has already resigned from his £180,000-a-year job. Other resignations or disciplinary action could follow.

Colleagues of Dr Boston, the former head of the education service in New South Wales, say that his direct approach to problems was not welcomed. One said that he "tended to treat people like Australians" rather than play the kind of political games civil servants normally adopt in the UK in their dealings with ministers.

Last night, the exam board Edexcel was given the green light to administer next year's tests for 11-year-olds. The QCA said Edexcel was its "preferred bidder", although the contract has not yet been signed.

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