Teachers losing confidence in exam marking, study suggests


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The Independent Online

Heads and teachers are losing confidence in the marking of GCSE and A-level exams, according to new research published today.

A study by exams regulator Ofqual revealed almost half of head teachers interviewed had low levels of confidence in the marking of A-levels - while 57 per cent expressed similar reservations about GCSEs - with 53 per cent saying marking standards had declined over the past two years.

Two thirds of head teachers and 47 per cent of teachers said they did not think all A-level students got the right grades. The figure for GCSEs was 79 per cent and 64 per cent respectively.

Head teachers’ leaders said that the constant changes to exam system had led to a loss of confidence with teachers today not knowing the standard their pupils had to achieve for each grade.

However, concern over marking standards is understood not to have led to an increase in appeals against grades from schools.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said independent schools “often didn’t stop to think” before appealing, whereas state schools were often put off by the cost.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added: “Confidence has dropped because of the piecemeal changes that have been rushed through. People no longer know with the confidence they did have in the past what is expected of pupils for a particular grade.”

The survey said the most common reasons cited by teachers for students not getting the right grades were “inaccurate marking” and “grade boundaries not being properly set”.

This follows the controversy two years ago when the English grade boundaries were raised between the January and June sitting of the GCSE exam.