From education to employment

Examinations Get a Funding Face Lift

The examinations system in Wales looks set for a major overhaul, it has been announced, in a bid to drive forward standards and success.

This will, it is hoped, mark the next step in the development of Welsh examination centres and thus provide ever better facilities for students to achieve great things in their exams. The investment, amounting to £500,000 in 2005-06, is a part of the Assembly Governments plans to modernise examination equipment in Wales.

The funding launch was hosted by Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning Jane Davidson at the Joint Council for Qualifications annual conference held in Cardiff, where she said: “This substantial funding will enable examination centres in Wales to modernise their equipment and to improve the administration and security of the examination system in Wales.”

Where the Money Goes

The money will be stretched as far as it can go and will address issues of punctuality and credibility for the exams. The funding will go towards such developments as computer hardware and software; computer printers and scanners; computer back up such as external hard discs; broadband Internet access; dedicated phone and / or fax lines and voicemail; and general capital equipment such as shredders, trolleys and Optical Mark Reader.

These are not the only areas that need development, as Jane Davidson has recognised. “Every centre will be able to claim up to £1,800 on the equipment that they need most,” she said. “This will further improve the security of our exams, so that students hard work is recognised safely and on time.” And to tackle the subject of security around examinations, the money can be used for exam office security such as secure locks, alarm systems, window security bars and secure storage such as safes and lockable metal cabinets.

The Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales (ACCAC) will administer the grant scheme on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government; and for those centres that do not have regular examinations entrants, the funding allocation will be decided on a case ““ by ““ case basis.

The issue of the quality of the current examination system has been the hot topic for yet another summer, and allegations of falling standards can hardly be music to the ears of ACCAC or their English counterpart, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). Investing money in the improvement of the infrastructure may help somewhat, but does not address the concerns of industry and the general public over the education quality provided.

Jethro Marsh

Value for money? Should ACCAC invest in equipment to guarantee exams that some no longer rate? Tell us in the FE Blog

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