Ofqual investigates examiners’ experience and background


Ofqual is surveying examiners on their background amid fears from teachers that some lack the experience to mark scripts to a suitable standard.

Examiners will be assessed on how long they have been marking papers, whether they have degrees in their subjects, and how confident they feel at the task.

The report will be published this year, and is the first time the watchdog has updated its information on examiners’ backgrounds in five years.

Meanwhile some teachers have used online forums to complain that PGCE students are being allowed to mark GCSE papers.

Kay Sawbridge, a computer science and IT teacher, said many teachers “can’t believe” that such inexperienced teachers are being accepted as examiners.

Teachers should have taught the course so they have the necessary knowledge and experience to moderate it properly

They feel teachers “should have taught the course so they have the necessary knowledge and experience to moderate it properly”.

Two major exam boards, OCR and AQA, have defended using PGCE students as examiners. Edexcel and WJEC do not use them.

OCR claimed that demands on teachers’ time and the increase in the number of exams means there is “a need to encourage a younger generation of teachers to get involved in examining”.

Applications from PGCE students and newly qualified teachers with 100 hours of teaching experience, and who have completed the teaching element of the course, have been accepted by OCR for the last three years.

The subject knowledge of newly qualified teachers is “invaluable”, said the spokesperson.

AQA also accepted PGCE students after running a “really successful” pilot in 2016, and has recruited another 260 this year to mark papers in a few subjects that the board would not specify.

That number is a “modest increase” on the previous year and a tiny proportion of their 40,000 examiners.

Helen Webb, AQA’s resourcing and talent manager, said “our research shows PGCE examiners do just as good a job at marking exams as other new examiners in the subjects where we’re using them”.

WJEC does not permit PGCE students to be examiners and requires a minimum of three terms of teaching experience to apply.

Malcolm Trobe, the deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said “in an ideal world” all examiners would have significant teaching experience.

The fact they do not “clearly reflects the huge pressure to recruit sufficient numbers of examiners”.

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