HMC Chairman Dr Christopher Ray and General Secretary Dr William Richardson met with the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP today on behalf of senior schools in the independent sector to discuss the state of public examinations in England.  Also attending were Brian Lightman of ASCL and Russell Hobby of NAHT, so ensuring that school leaders of almost all secondary schools in England made their common views known on what needs to change so that students’ work is marked more fairly and accurately. 

The meeting followed HMC’s critical report published in September: England’s ‘examinations industry’: deterioration and decay.  The Secretary of State welcomed the findings of this report, agreeing that the need to tackle immediate problems is urgent and that, alongside this, longer-term plans need to be laid to bring about a deepening of the skills of the examiner workforce.   The heads’ leaders re-asserted their findings that, at present, marking is neither sufficiently accurate nor fair, and appeals procedures are inadequate.

It was agreed that the associations, led by HMC, would supply Mr Gove and Ofqual with a plan of action and accompanying rationale. At the same time they would propose a process whereby expert advice might be directed to rectifying immediate problems and indicating the kind of longer term development needed to ensure that, unlike at present, students’ papers are marked and moderated accurately.  In 2011/12, almost half of all teachers (42%) said that they had had to rely on the ‘enquiries about results’ procedure (i.e. a formal complaint) to secure accurate marks or grades for their students.

HMC Chairman Chris Ray said: ‘It was clear that the Secretary of State shares our sense of concern as to the seriousness of the situation.  With our colleagues representing headteachers in state-maintained schools, we will provide him with a realistic and accurate assessment of what needs to be done next to start on the long road back to better examining of the work of young people in public examinations’.  


Notes for Editors:

HMC (The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference), established in 1869, is the oldest and largest (in pupil numbers) of the UK independent schools’ associations. Its 252 members include most of the largest and most successful senior co-educational, boys’ and girls’ schools and educate more than 200,000 children.

ASCL (The Association of School and College Leaders) is the only union exclusively to speak for secondary school and college leaders. Its membership includes more than 17,000 secondary school and college leaders, including heads, principals, deputies, vice-principals, assistant heads, and business managers. ASCL represents 80 per cent of secondary heads and has members in more than 90 per cent of secondary schools.

NAHT is an independent trade union and professional association representing over 28,500 members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Members hold leadership positions in early years; primary; special and secondary schools; independent schools; sixth form and FE colleges; outdoor education centres; pupil referral units, social services establishments and other educational settings.

A copy of the HMC’s report: England’s ‘examinations industry’: deterioration and decay can be found by clicking here.