Marked problem of rewarding status quo 1

August 7, 2008

Hurrah for Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's assault on marking schemes (Columnist, 24 July). I spent two years as an A-level Edexcel assistant physics examiner. The first, with the various "standardisation" meetings, was grim enough but made worthwhile by a wonderful team leader - an older physics teacher of much learning who commanded respect and who was of exactly the type being forced out of the system. The second year, when everything was automated and "marking" meant sitting in front of one's PC for hours clicking boxes according to the mark scheme, became unbearable. I have not returned.

The entire purpose of the mark scheme seemed to be to reduce marking to an exercise that could be done by anyone without technical expertise. My mind still boggles at the weirdness of this. If that is what the boards want, why don't they just pay unskilled workers to do the job?

Fernandez-Armesto is right that trust must be restored and examiners once again allowed to examine with their own personal and professional discrimination. Thinkers such as Onora O'Neill and Charles Moore have been writing on related issues of trust for some time now. Let us hope the exam boards are listening.

Name and address withheld.

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