Capita pauses SATs marking for nearly two days

Firm halted marking to scan more test scripts

Firm halted marking to scan more test scripts

Outsourcing giant Capita had to pause SATs marking for nearly two days to allow more test scripts to be scanned in this week after teachers “exceeded expectation”.

Markers said the lock-out left them with less time to complete their marking commitments to meet future deadlines, on top of teaching full-time. 

The consultancy firm halted marking from Monday morning until 5pm on Tuesday to “manage demand”. 

Due to the pandemic, it is the first time that the company has overseen the testing and marking arrangements for a full set of SATs. 

Marking started last week and runs until June. Most markers complete their work within three weeks.

In an email on Monday, Capita said that “marking progress over the weekend exceeded expectation and as such we know at some periods there were a limited number of segments available for you to mark in some subjects.

“In order to overcome this and to allow our scanning operation the time to replenish supplies, we will be pausing marking activity now until 5pm on Tuesday 24 May to help satisfy demand. We ask you not to continue marking segments through this period.” 

‘Slow process’

A marker, who wished to remain anonymous, said it had become a “slow process. So on top of teaching full time, we have to wait for the systems to catch up so we can mark.”

Markers had raised concerns with Capita about completing their marking allocations in time for future deadlines. But, in an email, the company reassured markers they would “not be penalised in you are unable to meet these milestones”. 

It followed recent problems when teachers could not access a virtual marker training event at the weekend, leading to some markers resigning. 

Heads have also complained after waiting hours on hold to the Standards and Testing Agency helpline, run by Capita. Extra staff had to be drafted in. 

As part of its £107 million government contract, Capita manages the recruitment of markers and the printing, distribution and collation of test papers for key stage 1 and key stage 2, as well as the phonics screening check.

A Capita spokesperson said they were “pleased with the strong performance” of markers. “We paused access to the marking system for a brief period to manage demand, but this has now been restored.”

The Department for Education said the marking process involves scanning “millions of pupil test scripts”.

They said that although they aim to “maintain provision, peaks and troughs of script availability in the online marking system are inevitable”. 

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