Is basically a fiasco.
Well actually that is not quite true. Not all of it is. I have some very hard working friends who are keen and conscientious exam markers so this post is not directed at them. I know they are under huge amounts of pressure, not being paid a huge amount and are all doing their best and also caught up in a system that is, I think, fundamentally broken. I know exam markers are doing it in their spare time, around their only family commitments and full time jobs and it really can’t be easy for them either.
This post is about the system in general and how I think it is broken and needs to be radically overhauled.
I had this post in my head yesterday as it has directly affected us and then I read in the paper this morning that Chris King, Chairman of the Headteachers and Headmistresses Conference is saying the same thing in a speech he is due to give today. He says the current system of exam marking is “untenable” and needs a massive overhaul. I don’t know enough about it to make a statement like that but I do know that we have just been caught up in it and needs a drastic rethink at the very least.
This summer Ellie sat her GCSEs and did bloody brilliantly. She was due to stay on at her school, going into the Sixth Form and was offered a place conditional on her getting at least five A* to C grade passes, with at least a B or A in the subjects she wanted to do at A level. She worked her arse off from Christmas onwards and got amazing grades. One of which was a C in English Literature. I still thought that was great, especially as I got a U <ahem> but Ellie was a bit miffed. She isnt doing English at A level so it didn’t make a difference to her staying on, but it made a difference to her personally.
Then we heard rumblings that a large number of pupils not just at her school but at other schools locally had asked for that paper to be remarked as lots of teachers and other parents were not happy. Nor were many at Ellie’s school and many asked for the paper to re-marked. In EVERY instance the grade had gone up. Every single one.
Hmm. So we asked for Ellie’s to be re-marked. It didn’t really matter as she had still got a C, a pass, and had enough to get into the Sixth Form but for our own peace of mind we wanted to know. And Ellie wanted to know that her hard work and reading of the texts had been rewarded with the right grade.
It cost £62 to get the paper remarked. I know. Don’t get me started. Over sixty quid for the re-mark. But whilst I really didn’t want to pay it I did want Ellie to know if she had been downgraded.
Lo and behold yesterday we find out that she had in fact got a B, not a C after all. Extra marks had been found, seven in fact, and her mark had gone up a grade. Not just a couple of marks found, but 7.
Which is great for Ellie as it is the mark she was expecting given the amount of work she did. But how is that fair in the bigger scheme of things?
We have paid over £60 for that, had we not been able to pay it then Ellie would still have her C. How is that fair?
Is this just a money making exercise? It certainly looks like it to me. What a great way for a company to make money. I am sure that is not the case but as a money making scheme it is genius, isn’t it?
We did have a discussion about what would have happened if this was A Levels. This could really have been the difference between her getting into her first choice of University, and not and it having an effect on more than just her own peace of mind.
I don’t know what the answer is but there has to be one because this system is broken. And grossly unfair.
Photo of a pile of books courtesy of Shutterstock