It must be the height of summer. Parliament is in recess, news is a bit slow, but at least we have exam results to talk about. And, sure enough, a story surfaces that exam boards lose ‘hundreds’ of A Level scripts and end up having to guess candidates’ grades. Although this version of the truth is far from balanced, the story gets plenty of traction on social media and before we know it blogs from outraged commentators are doing the rounds and the minister for schools is demanding fundamental reform to the exam system.
Worst of all, students, who have worked so hard for their all-important grades, are left feeling betrayed by the system and worried about the accuracy of their results. This is why it is important to set the record straight.
To be clear. OCR does NOT ‘guess’ exam grades. Nor does any exam board. Millions of exam papers are marked every year. On the rare occasion when a student is ill, and unable to take a paper, exam boards follow processes which have been agreed with the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) to protect the interests of that student. For the paper which they have not been able to take as part of a GCSE or A Level, the candidate is awarded a mark which is mathematically calculated to put it in line with the marks they have achieved in the other 3 papers they have already taken.To put this in perspective: of the 3 million GCSE and A Level papers we have marked this year, only 0.001 of papers have had to be calculated in this way. An even smaller proportion (approximately 0.00002) are also allocated estimated grades because scripts have gone missing or because of other operational problems.
These kinds of issues need to be discussed and reported on and the press often plays an essential role in highlighting them and encouraging further debate, scrutiny that exam boards welcome. Neither are we afraid of a grown up discussion with politicians about how the exam system might be configured in the future. What serves no one’s interests however, least of all those of our young people, are ‘silly season’ scare stories that tell less than half the truth.
Mark Dawe - Chief Executive
Mark Dawe was appointed Chief Executive in November 2010.
Previously Mark was Principal and Chief Executive of Oaklands College in Hertfordshire. He has a wealth of experience across a broad spectrum in the education field and, in his previous role, was a board member of the Association of Learning Providers, Chair of the Association of Colleges for the Eastern Region, a Trustee of awarding body VTCT and board member of the Principals' Professional Council. He also recently headed the Capital Task Group on behalf of the Association of Colleges and is now Chair of the National Capital Reference Group.
Prior to his role at Oaklands College, Mark was Deputy Director, FE Strategy at the Department of Education and Skills having joined as Deputy Director, Adult Basic Skills Strategy Unit in 2003. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Mark joined Canterbury College, becoming Head of Corporate Services in 1994. In 2000, he set up eGS, an e-procurement provider to public sector customers.