Security couriers will transport exam scripts

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The Government's exams watchdog is to employ couriers to collect and distribute GCSE, AS and A-level exam scripts following the loss of thousands of candidates' papers.

Dr Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualification and Curriculum Authority, said the collection of the 24 million scripts would be put out to tender for next year.

The decision comes as a million youngsters face an agonising wait for this year's exam results. "There were stories of teachers rushing with a bundle of scripts to catch the post and them being left unattended," Dr Boston said. "There were also stories of the Royal Mail leaving bundles of scripts on markers' doorsteps.

"Papers have gone missing. Only a very small proportion, but they amount to thousands of students whose work is lost. That all has to be fixed." The shake-up is part of a £100m two-year modernisation of the exam marking system.

Under the system, scripts will be collected from schools by a security courier and will be receipted and bar-coded so that each bundle can be tracked online. They will only be delivered to the marker's home if they are there - and not left on the doorstep. They will then be collected and delivered to the exam board.

Exam boards are to increase the number of scripts marked online. This year, Edexcel, marked one million scripts online. To minimise bias, individual scripts can be split up between examiners - so that they can specialise in the marking of one question in the exam.

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