The Telegraph is reporting calls from the chief inspector of schools for exam boards to be banned from competing for business because of the “real danger” of standards being watered down.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, warned that there were serious concerns about whether the exam system was robust and said that the situation needed to be carefully monitored.
One of his biggest concerns is that as multiple exam boards fight to be chosen by schools they could be tempted to make their tests easier to help pupils get better grades.
Sir Michael, a former headteacher of one of the country’s most successful state schools, said that there should be one exam board per subject to safeguard standards and ensure that all children are tested equally.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Sir Michael said:
“…The big issue now is should we have competing boards? My personal view is that there is a real danger of examination boards watering down standards.”
He called for the “dividing up [of exam boards] between different subjects, so there’s one examination board for maths, and one examination board for English.”
“…There were concerns this year,” Sir Michael added. “I think you know the Government has got concerns about it, and I think you know we’re going to have to monitor this very carefully. Ofqual, as the regulator, have got to make recommendations to government members on this one.
“I speak not just as chief inspector but as an ex-head teacher. I always wondered why we had so many examination boards for individual subjects…”
Ofqual, the exams regulator, refused to comment.
Is Sir Michael right to be concerned over the impact of multiple exam boards competing in the same subjects? Is there a real risk it results in lower standards?
What about his idea – not a new one – that there should be one board per subject? Would they be a good compromise between the current situation and moving to a situation where we only have one board?
Please let us know what you think in the comments or via Twitter…
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