Errors in exam marking as tired teachers are like ‘heart surgeons operating at midnight’

Mistakes are being made in exam marking because teachers are forced to grade papers at night, the headmistress of a leading girls’ school has said, likening the practice to heart surgeons carrying out operations at midnight. This is from the Telegraph

A move towards electronic marking has made it difficult for examiners to mark scripts during school hours when they are “at the height of their game”, according to Alice Phillips, headmistress of St Catherine’s, a private girls’ school in Bramley, Surrey.

She suggested that the change, which means that teachers have to nominate a computer outside of school to mark on, is fuelling mistakes in GCSE and A-level papers.

Mrs Phillips, who is the new president of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), likened the situation to a heart surgeon carrying out a pre-planned operation at midnight.

She said that the association, along with a number of other organisations, is looking at the issue, with a pilot initiated by the OCR exam board being set up to trial marking in schools.

“We’re looking at public exam marking and the changes that have happened, the move to electronic marking on computers, which means members of staff then have to do it early and late at home because they have to use their home computer.

“They can’t take time in the summer term where there would have been non-contact time because lessons for classes have stopped, to go quietly aside and do public exam marking at the height of their game in the day.”

Mrs Phillips said that there had been concerns from school leaders about standards in exam marking, and there was a need to look at why this was happening…

The new pilot, which is being led for the GSA by Caroline Jordan, headmistress of Headington School, Oxford, will see a number of examiners given time to mark papers in a private room during the school day

Mrs Phillips said she thought that the situation was “fuelling some of the errors” in exam papers.

But she added: “I think it’s a perfectly remediable situation if the whole education sector works together.”…

More at: Errors in exam marking as tired teachers are like ‘heart surgeons operating at midnight’

We carried a report previously also from the Telegraph about this possible trial of marking in schools (see below). In the light of these comments from Alice Phillips, do you think this move to being able to mark papers at school during the school day makes sense? What’s not clear is whether this will be on-screen marking – but even if so, is that really a security risk? Please give us your thoughts in the comments or via Twitter…

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