ETS contract ended

16 Aug 2008

So the contract with the US company, ETS,  for the marking of the national curriculum tests has been ended. The face-saving formula was that the contract was ended 'by mutual consent'.  Hmm!  While the Sutherland Review will continue to examine what went wrong,  two big questions now arise:.

1. An awful lot of money went down the drain. The QCA agreed a £156 million for a 5-year contract. ETS has delivered just one year of that contract. The first year's contract was worth £39.6 million. Yet the QCA is getting back just £19.5 million plus a further £4.6 million in canceled invoices. So it has still cost the taxpayer £15.5 million for a very poor performance.

The first year of the contract was by far the most expensive because of all the start-up costs. So this means that whoever wins the next contract will also - presumably - need an extra large payment for the first year. 

The next 4 years of the ETS contract would have cost about £29 million a year or about £116 million over 4 years. I suspect the new contract will cost considerably more than this.

 Overall therefore this has been an expensive business for the taxpayer.  

 2. The other big question is: who will step in to bid for the new contract. Will Edexcel, who had the contract previously, return? Or will it be seen as just too risky and high-profile a business. Other exam bodies have already said they did not fancy the prospect of running this huge marking exercise in what is, already, a saturated marking system.

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