OCR summer exam results almost failed to be issued

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The OCR exam board almost failed to issue its GCSE and A-level results on time last year, according to a new Ofqual investigation into the handling of GCSE and A-Level results.

The problems were caused after it decided to move to a 100% online marking system and tightened up some of its processes.

The scrapping of re-sits and early entry exams also meant OCR had nearly one million extra papers to mark in the summer.

As a result, the regulator was forced to actively monitored OCR’s marking progress and the steps it took last year to ensure all results were issued on time, and subsequently initiated a thorough investigation into the challenges encountered by the exam board.

Chief Regulator, Glenys Stacey, said: "During the marking of 2014 GCSE and A levels, we were concerned that OCR would fail to issue all results on time. This would have had a huge impact on students, universities and schools. We therefore monitored the situation closely at the time, and decided to conduct a full investigation afterwards so as to get to the root causes of the problem.

"Our investigation and our review into OCR’s own internal investigation, have shown us that the problems were caused by a number of internal issues at OCR. OCR recognised the failings in its management systems that led to the marking problems and took the necessary steps to ensure that results were issued on time. This led us to decide not to take any further action."

The critical findings of Ofqual’s investigation, which run through its report, include that:

• OCR’s restructure impacted on the summer 2014 series.
• OCR had limited understanding of assessors’ availability.
• There was fragmented governance and a lack of clarity in key roles and responsibilities in managing marking.
• There was a lack of understanding among key senior managers of the end-to-end process of marking and awarding.
• There was no cross-business contingency planning and risk identification.

Malcolm Trobe, Deputy General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Students absolutely must receive their results at the right time so that those sitting A levels are able to take up university offers and those taking GCSEs are able to progress to A levels and other post-16 courses.

“There are clearly lessons to be learned and it is good to see that Ofqual has highlighted in its report the specific issues which caused problems."

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