Teachers recruited to mark SATs are threatening never to work for contractor Capita again after claiming their “soul destroying” pay has more than halved.
Markers opening their first payslips this week found they were being paid as low as 4p for each batch of questions.
They allege that questions about how much their pay rates would be set went unanswered in recent weeks.
Due to the pandemic, it is the first time that Capita has overseen the testing and marking arrangements for a full set of SATs under its £107 million contract. Previously, the contracts were run by different companies.
One marker, who wished to remain anonymous, told Schools Week that marking roughly 4,000 “segments” – which normally contain one or two questions – would have earned them £750 in 2019.
However, this year the marker earned around £160. The average rate of pay for marking each segment was 4p.
Another marker said the pay change could be due to the way in which Capita organises questions. They claimed these were previously at a rate of about 7p to 8p per question. But there are now several questions per segment.
Markers claim SATs marking pay slashed in half
Previously this marker was paid about £750 for 42 hours of marking. But they claim 38 hours of marking this year will come out at about £300 – less than half the amount.
The marker said it worked out at about £7 pound per hour. The minimum wage is £9.50.
“I will never work for them again,” they added. The marker plans to challenge Capita on the pay rates, adding: “I won’t stop until I get my proper pay.”
A first-time marker said their 6p per segment was “soul destroying” adding: “The pay isn’t very good for the amount of work done, and I won’t be doing it again.”
Last financial year, Capita reported an adjusted profit of £93.5 million before tax, up from £5.4 million in 2020.
A Capita spokesperson said each marker received an “indicative estimate” of what they could earn in their “letter of appointment”. Any markers with queries should contact their marking team, the spokesperson added.
However, one of the markers said they had been trying to get answers for weeks on pay, but with no answer. They said if the 4p figure had been shared they would have “resigned immediately”.
“I’m an experienced A-level and GCSE marker for several exam boards,” they added. “Capita’s lack of transparency on pay is unique in my experience.”
Markers may not work for Capita again
Capita refused to comment on the claims that marker pay had dropped dramatically.
The spokesperson added the value of each segment “varies between different subjects and papers and each allocation corresponds to a payment higher than the national minimum wage”.
“Markers can be paid for each allocated segment they mark, the training they complete and if they have a role, such as supervising a team, for which they may receive an additional responsibility fee for.”
Three markers said they are now questioning whether to do it again. Capita previously said it expected its new secure access portal to be used by 4,000 test markers each year.
However, the contractor has already run into problems. It had to pause marking for almost two days after teachers “exceeded expectations”. The firm needed more time to scan scripts in for them to mark – but it left markers up against it to fulfil their quotas.
Headteachers also complained of being on hold for hours to the Standards and Testing Agency helpline, also run by the firm.
Trainee teachers, teachers in primary schools or teachers in secondary schools specialising in English or Maths can apply to be SATs markers.
Specialist markers must have either qualified teacher status or have marked SATs in the past five years.
Markers also receive additional payments for training days and printing allowances.