Marking crisis hits A-level and GCSE exams


A report has found that thousands of teachers will be needed to keep up with the marking for new GCSE and A-level qualifications. The lack of examiners is so considerable that the headteachers association, the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) and exam boards, has began a publicity drive in order to recruit more teachers.

Presently there are 34,000 examiners who set and mark eight million GCSE and A-level papers for 2 million students aged 15-19 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. However it is estimated that there will need to be a further 7,000 teachers by 2019 in order to keep up with marking demands.

The demand for more examiners has been brought about by new changes to the qualifications which the report claims is ‘creating new challenges for the system’. These changes include cutting the amount of coursework in England which will increase the length of exam time in most GCSE’s from two and a half hours to three and a half. Also the reforms being made to exams will see a decrease of knowledge recall and an increase in analytical answers. According to the report this means that more examiners would be required to be ‘highly skilled subject experts’.

However the high volume of work which teachers already deal with on a day to day basis and the current teacher shortage may deter some from also becoming an examiner. This has been taken into account by the JCQ and they have came up with various incentives which would both publicise the need for examiners and entice teachers into the positions. These incentives include a certification scheme which would recognise schools that support teachers who become examiners, an award scheme for long-term teachers who are also examiners and a brand new recruitment website.

The head of curriculum strategy at the AQA board, Dale Basset stated that ‘rather than waiting for this to become a problem we are proactively working to recruit these extra examiners’.

January 2017