SATs, Schools

Markers locked out of Capita’s SATs webinar

The firm has apologised after teachers were left waiting for hours

The firm has apologised after teachers were left waiting for hours

Teachers recruited to become SATs markers spent hours at the weekend trying to access a training webinar run by contractor Capita.

The consultancy firm ran the first virtual key stage 2 marker training over the weekend, which was attended by over 3,750 people.

However, some teachers complained on Saturday they were unable to get into the online session and when they called the helpline, were met with no answer or were on hold for hours.

One teacher in North Yorkshire, who wished to remain anonymous, told Schools Week they emailed in their resignation after not being able to get access.

They checked everything was working the night before, but when they logged on the following morning it said “link not found”.

“I sent an email to the marking team support and called the helpline which cut off after three rings. I haven’t been able to get responses to any emails or messages.”

Another teacher said on Twitter they were on hold for over two hours trying to get help, while others have not heard back from Capita since.

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.

Capita drafts in additional staff

Due to the pandemic, it is the first time the company has rolled out a full test cycle. Marking starts around now until June, with most completing their marking within three weeks.

A Capita spokesperson said some people experienced “issues with helpline waiting times on the weekend”.

They added: “Following this, additional, experienced staff were made available across all contact routes to provide the necessary support. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Another teacher, who managed to get through to the webinar, said the marking platform had been “slow” at times and stopped working at least once this week.

There have also been delays with the Standards and Testing Agency helpline, also run by Capita.

Jamie Barry, headteacher at Yew Tree Primary School, in Sandwell, was on hold for two hours on Monday to “check something that takes a minute”.

He said: “Frustration is an understatement. We are busy enough anyway with the impacts of statutory assessments.”

The DfE said they were aware of issues with helpline waiting time last week and they made “additional, experienced staff available” across “all contact routes” so schools “received the support they required”.

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  1. Try looking at the way Capita are handling the marking of KS2 SATs too. For 2 days there have been no papers to mark and we are now told not to mark until 5pm on Tuesday! How are markers supposed to hit their deadlines?
    I can’t give my name due to breach of contract

  2. Peter

    The whole thing is a shambles and continues to be. Today an email from Capita saying markers locked out again to give time for the group scanning papers time to catch up. So, no papers avail for marking until 5.00pm 24-05-22. Over the weekend papers have been available in one’s and two’s. Are Capita capable? I think not.

    • I completely agree, there has been one failing after another. We now find ourselves at the weekend with nothing available to mark, following an allocation rise on Friday. As an experienced marker I have never experienced such incompetence.

  3. That’s not the half of it. They’ve now made a monumental balls up of allocation numbers, and set the numbers allocated to each marker impossible to meet in the deadlines. Not only that, but along with the fact that the ePen system kept crashing or working horrendously slowly, they hadn’t scanned in enough of the scripts in order for markers to meet the first milestone in Saturday, so most markers missed it, and then scripts ran out entirely by Sunday. Their answer? To close down the ePen system until Tuesday evening, in order that they could scan in more scripts!! The problem is, the next milestone is Wednesday, which will mean markers will have to complete about 25 hours worth of marking within a 24 hour window, without going to sleep at all! A staggering level of incompetence from a purported “IT Solutions” company.

    • Sarah Brooks

      Is anyone else still having major issues? I have literally thousands left to mark but there is nothing available. It is totally shambolic. There is no communication from them which is of any help at all

    • Susie Powell

      When the system started lagging the first time I phoned the Capita helpline and while I was on hold received an email saying they were closing Mark Manager as they had no more scripts available to mark. I decided to stay on the helpline to ask if that meant deadlines were being extended and 55 minutes later when somebody actually answered, she was not even aware that Mark Manager had closed! (She went to check with her manager and then told me it was shut for 36 hours) I asked her if that meant deadlines would be extended because that was the only day I wasn’t teaching or tutoring and work and family commitments meant there was no way I’d meet their targets and again she had no idea – some “help”line!
      Another gripe is that the training materials and webinar did not include an estimation of how many scripts would be allocated to each marker or the number of hours they estimated marking taking. It’s a LOT for the money.
      Finally when I flagged up a query about an individual answer – if it’s a one-word answer and pupil wrote the correct word, but then added an explanation for their choice in brackets afterwards, do they get the mark?- my supervisor told me to refer to the training materials. Clearly I had not found the answer in the training materials otherwise I would not have marked it for Attention of Supervisor! Really frustrated and disappointed with this whole experience, won’t be signing up for this next year.

  4. Miss S

    it’s my first year doing marking and I am genuinely DISGUSTED! Also the allocation of questions has gone up 2732 from 12256 to 14998 since yesterday – is this for the same money? I was one of those who could not access Saturday’s meeting K training. Sent several emails and spent 2hr 40 mins on hold only to be cut off. Shambolic.

  5. Miss S

    Also, forgot to say, I have been sent messages to my mark manager inbox that are from another marker to their supervisor – quite a personal message too. I highlighted this to my supervisor and got nothing back – a real privacy issue.

  6. My password to the marking system never worked. Repeated requests by email to Capita have not been replied to. I did all the initial online training and attended the webinar. I finally got through to the helpline after 3 hours of waiting. A really nice agent called Kay spent an hour on the phone with me and left messages for the IT dept to access and reply to me – they never did.
    I did however, receive an automated email to tell me that my contract had been cancelled because I had not completed the qualification process – which needed the password! After phoning, I was told there was nothing they could do and the agent would not pass me onto a supervisor.
    The only parts of this fiasco that were decent were the parts they’d replicated from Pearson Edexcel, who had the contract for the previous nine years.
    Capita should be stripped of the contract. It’s been a total and utter disgrace.

  7. Capita Marking Shambles continues!
    Deadline for ALL marking completed is 5/6/22. Paucity of scripts available to mark all weekend and continues into today. Someone at DfE/STA needs to get hold of Capita as this is a fiasco.

    • Still ongoing for me – is this the same for anyone else? I’ve emailed C with no reply. There have been no scripts available across any segments for days… still none today, and I’ve got about 3000 still to mark???