Heads revolt over 10 years of exam havoc

In an article in The Sunday Times, 16/09/12, HMC warns that  plans by Michael Gove, the education secretary, to overhaul GCSEs and A-levels are built on “foundations of sand” because the exam and marking system is so incompetently run as evidenced in the dossier of  “10 key failings of the exam industry”, based on years of research among HMC members.

“Current qualifications — some A-levels and GCSEs more broadly — are houses built on sand,” said Christopher Ray, high master of Manchester grammar school and chairman of the HMC.

“The examples we have brought together on behalf of all the country’s schools are shocking in the extent to which they show that results can be arbitrary and appeals [are] blocked by procedure rather than a relentless focus on the quality of examining.”

One HMC finding shows that between 2010 and 2011 there were swings of more than 10% in the proportion of pupils winning A* or A in their English GCSEs in at least 54 of its 252 member schools. At several schools the figure was more than 30% and at one school it was 67%.

The HMC describes the erratic English marking as “completely unacceptable”. It says it presented its findings to Ofqual, the exams regulator, but received no response.

By Jack Grimston and Peter Newlands, Sunday Times. Click here to read the article © The Sunday Times