OCR chief hits back against government threat of single exam boards

The TES is reporting that the head of one of England’s big three exam boards has hit back against a government threat to end all competition between awarding bodies…

Mark Dawe, chief executive of OCR, has spoken out after a warning that ministers are dusting off plans to have single exam boards for each subject amid fears of falling standards.

Ministers are considering the move after a public spat by exam boards over practice papers produced for new maths GCSEs. The OCR and Edexcel boards had complained that the papers from rival board AQA were too easy.

But Mr Dawe warned today that ending competition would produce the complete opposite of its desired effect. The dispute, he argues, demonstrates the benefits of having several different exam boards…

A Department for Education source said: “I think quite the opposite [to Mark Dawe]. This row plainly shows that exam boards, despite repeated warnings from the department, continue to engage in a race towards lower standards for the goal of securing a greater market share.

“This is exactly why we have had to dust off plans to look at going back to one exam board.”

Mr Dawe was also critical of regulator Ofqual’s efforts to resolve the row over practice papers, saying it was giving “mixed messages”. He is due to meet the watchdog next week and is concerned that it is not acting quickly enough over the GCSE maths issue…

More at: OCR chief hits back against government threat of single exam boards


What do you think about this one: are schools and students better served with choice and competition from multiple exam boards or would single boards for each subject be better? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Issues are: 1. Current system is profit driven; 2. Ofqual run system would not be trusted as Ofqual continually mess up.

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove A choice between the current system & the DfE/Ofqual running the exam system you’d stick with current state of play all day

  3. andylutwyche

    HughdjNicklin Quite – one is profit driven and the other is political ideology driven. Terrific. #choices

  4. h_emoney

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Varying interpretations by Exam Boards, OFQUAL isn’t doing something right definitely not helping their course

  5. ceocb

    SchoolsImprove hope readers realise only a small number of ‘exam boards’offer GCSEs ,A levels, most don,t and are not involved in this row

  6. Janet2

    Exam changes introduced too quickly and without proper evaluation.  At same time for-profit exam boards tout for business and have a vested interest in dissing the opposition.

    Time to phase out high stakes exams at 16+ and move towards graduation at 18 via multiple routes.

  7. Kenza

    The current system is profit driven.  Ultimately exam boards are businesses no different from a supermarket or a bank, one of them Pearson which is one of the FTSE100 companies.  Their goals is to make maximum profit on the back of the school system.  It is well known that schools/heads of curriculum/heads of department  “shop” around and will chose the easiest qualifications.   Go on any  forums/groups in the various social networks to see how teachers are drawing comparisons between the different specifications to find out which are the most “accessible to their cohorts” aka easiest.   One exam board for each subject  with no vested financial  interest is the way forward.  In France, exams are set by one central body and whether you live in Corsica, Martinique or a far flung village in the Ardennes  all students sit the same exam in a different centre from their school.  Schools have no choice in deciding which specifications to deliver.   As long as there are different boards who are touting their wares to schools we will have this downward spiral of standards which is the core of the rot in the education system and needs to be eradicated.

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