Use of pens in written exams 'cannot go on'

Education Editor,Richard Garner
Friday 25 February 2011 01:00

The days of using pens and paper in exams must be brought to an end, the head of the country's exams watchdog, says today.

Isabel Nisbet, chief executive of Ofqual, said that if school exams did not go online soon, exam preparation "will become a separate thing to learning" for candidates brought up on computers.

She added that sticking to traditional writing materials would make GCSEs and A-levels become "invalid" for more digitally aware pupils.

Ms Nisbet, writing in today's Times Education Supplement, said she was concerned that technologically savvy pupils could take only "bits" of a "very small" number of GCSEs and A-levels on computers.

"They use IT as their natural medium for identifying and exploring new issues and deepening their knowledge," she said. "This cannot go on. Our school exams are running the risk of becoming invalid as their medium of pen and ink increasingly differs from the way in which youngsters learn."

The number of exam scripts marked online has grown steadily in recent years.

However, earlier this week, it was revealed that 622 students had been awarded lower grades than they should have been because sections of their papers had not been marked as a result of errors in online marking.

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