Another exam board offers payments instead of furlough

Another exam board has offered pay-offs instead of furlough for some examiners, while committing to returning savings from unspent exam fees back to schools.

In an email to examiners, Pearson said it was not using the government’s furlough scheme because it “believes it has been put in place to protect primarily small and medium-sized business”.

In February the global education firm’s operating profit was reported as £275 million, down from £553 million in 2018.

Instead, it has offered payments to senior examiners that it says will be the equivalent to about 80 per cent of their assessment-related earnings from May to August last year.

But the company, which owns the Edexcel exam board, has not revealed how much the payment will be.

In an email seen by Schools Week, Edexcel told a senior examiner that it hoped the deal “strikes a balance between protecting you from the financial impact of lost earnings during this period and our commitment to return any of the costs not incurred back into schools and the education system”.

It added that the payment was the “right approach and would be, in most cases, more generous than the government furlough scheme”.

“Importantly, it will also enable you to continue to be involved in the critical work that is needed to deliver an extended autumn series this year and prepare for examination series in future years.”

Schools Week revealed earlier this month that Cambridge Assessment, which owns exam boards OCR and Cambridge International, was furloughing some of its examiners, but offering others a £250 one-off “goodwill” payment.

Meanwhile, AQA is “looking at what we can do to support [examiners] in these extraordinary circumstances” and WJEC is expecting to make an announcement by the end of the week.

A spokesperson for Pearson said: “We are working hard to define the detail of the approach to providing students with grades this summer and to fully understand how this impacts on all aspects of our fees and associated costs.”