Examinations - wasting our money?

06 Jan 2010

With schools and colleges facing tough budget settlements ahead, some of the £700 million spent on examinations in England each year could be better spent on other aspects of education.

 That's the conclusion of a pamphlet published today by the leading education charity, the National Education Trust*, and supported by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

The report - 'Assessing Assessment' - says that young people in England take about 30 million examinations a year and that between the ages of 14 and 18 they will spend the equivalent of nearly a whole academic year sitting examinations.

According to John Dunford, General-Secretary of ASCL “the cost of external examinations is excessive and takes up too high a proportion of school and college budgets. In many cases it is the second largest single budget expenditure, after staffing costs. Especially in the current economic climate, this money could be put to better use elsewhere.”

 Roy Blatchford of the National Education Trust says assessment should become much more of an 'internal matter' for schools and colleges. He argues that with compulsory education being extended to 18 the 'hiatus' of externally-set and marked GCSEs will become 'increasingly unnecessary'.

The report calls for a body of Chartered Assessors - teachers in schools who are trained to conduct assessments - to be established. These 'Chartered Assessors' would then oversee assessment in their own institution.

However, the pamphlet's authors - Malcolm Trobe and Dr. Tony Ashmore - say that examinations at the end of compulsory education should continue to be externally marked and moderated.

The full report is available at: http://www.nationaleducationtrust.net/SISL/Counterblasts/AssessingAssessment.pdf

*I should declare my interest as a trustee of NET.

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