Waddell (1978)

Notes on the text

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(page numbers in brackets)

Part I

Preliminary pages (iii-viii)
Contents, Membership
Chapter I (1-5)
Introduction
Chapter II (6-18)
Educational matters
Chapter III (19-27)
Structure of the examining system
Chapter IV (28-34)
Cost
Chapter V (35-41)
Conclusions
Appendices (42-46)

Part II

Preliminary pages (i-xvii)
Contents, Membership

Report of the Education Study Group (ESG)

Glossary, Introduction (1-9)
Chapter 1 (10-15)
Feasibility of common exam system
Chapter 2 (16-23)
English
Chapter 3 (24-29)
Mathematics
Chapter 4 (30-34)
Science
Chapter 5 (35-39)
History
Chapter 6 (40-43)
Geography
Chapter 7 (44-48)
Modern languages
Chapter 8 (49-52)
Classics
Chapter 9 (53-54)
Commerce
Chapter 10 (55-56)
Social science
Chapter 11 (57-58)
Religious studies
Chapter 12 (59-60)
Craft design and technology
Chapter 13 (61-63)
Technical drawing
Chapter 14 (64-65)
Home economics
Chapter 15 (66-67)
Needlecraft and dress
Chapter 16 (68-70)
Art
Chapter 17 (71-72)
Music
Chapter 18 (73-76)
Further work
Appendix A (77)
List of witnesses
Appendix B (78-80)
Questions
Appendix C (81)
Statistics
Appendix D (82-129)
Joint examinations

Report of the Cost Study Group (CSG)

Chapter 1 (131-134)
Introduction
Chapter 2 (135-149)
Costs in 1976
Chapter 3 (150-161)
Costing a common system
Chapter 4 (162-165)
Changeover costs
Annexes (166-186)


The Waddell Report (1978)
School Examinations

Report of the Steering Committee established to consider proposals for replacing the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level and Certificate of Secondary Education examinations by a common system of examining

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1978
© Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.


[title page]

SCHOOL EXAMINATIONS

Report of the Steering Committee established to consider
proposals for replacing the General Certificate of Education
Ordinary-level and Certificate of Secondary Education
examinations by a common system of examining

PART I

Chairman: Sir James Waddell CB

Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State
for Education and Science and the Secretary of
State for Wales by Command of Her Majesty
July 1978

LONDON
HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE

£1.15 net

Cmnd 7281-I


[page iii]

The Rt Hon Shirley Williams, MP
Secretary of State for Education and Science

The Rt Hon John Morris, QC, MP
Secretary of State for Wales

June, 1978

Dear Secretaries of State

I have much pleasure in submitting the report of the Steering Committee which was established last year to oversee further study of the proposals for a common system of examining at 16+.

In the course of our work we set up two study groups, one to consider in detail the educational aspects of our task and the other to consider the cost implications of a common system. The reports which we received from both groups are submitted with our own.

The Committee recommend that you should publish their own report. Although this may be read as a self-contained document, it was represented to us by the interests most directly concerned with 16+ examinations, notably the GCE and CSE examining boards, that there would be considerable advantage in making available the fullest possible account of our work. The Committee agreed and also recommend that the two study group reports should be published alongside their own.

Yours sincerely
SlR JAMES WADDELL
(Chairman).


[page v]

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ParagraphsPage
PART I Report of the Steering Committee
Membershipvii

CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
Background4-81
The Schools Council's proposals9-153
Other matters16-185

CHAPTER II EDUCATIONAL MATTERS
Feasibility196
Report of the Educational Study Group20-436
    Definition of a common system216
    Range of ability covered by a common system226
    The evidence reviewed by the Group23-257
    Curricular issues268
    Nature of examinations in a common system27-328
    The Group's findings33-3910
    Further work recommended by the Group40-4313
Our approach to the Educational Study Group's report44-5514

CHAPTER III STRUCTURE OF THE EXAMINING SYSTEM
Principles relating to administrative change56-6019
Possibilities considered by the Committee61-6420
Co-operation between boards65-6721
Distribution of work within examining groups68-7222
Structure of examining groups73-7623
Choice of board77-8324
Co-ordination at national level84-8626


[page vi]

ParagraphsPage
CHAPTER IV COST
Introduction87-8928
Costs of operating a common system90-9828
'Hidden' costs99-10031
Changeover costs101-10432
Our approach to the Group's report105-10833

CHAPTER V CONCLUSIONS
General110-12235
Summary123-13338
    Educational matters124-12738
    Structure of the examining system128-13139
    Cost13240
    Sequence and timing of events13340

APPENDICES
Appendix A:
    Membership of the Educational Study Group
42
Appendix B:
    Membership of the Cost Study Group
43
Appendix C:
    1976 GCE O Level and CSE entries (England and Wales) by board
44
Appendix D:
    Schools Council: decisions of Governing Council on a common system of examining at 16+ (8 July 1976)
45
Table: The pattern of GCE and CSE board expenditure, 197629

PART II (continued in separate volume)
Report of the Educational Study Group
Report of the Cost Study Group


[page vii]

MEMBERSHIP OF THE COMMITTEE

CHAIRMAN
Sir James Waddell CB

MEMBERS

Mr RH BirdDepartment of Education and Science (to 5 September 1977)
Miss SJ Browne CBHM Inspectorate
Mr AMG ChristopherSecretary, Inland Revenue Staff Federation (from 14 November 1977)
Mr Ron CockingHeadmaster, Colmers Farm Junior School, Birmingham
Mr Walter Cooke OBEHeadmaster, Highfield Comprehensive School, Gateshead (died 17 March 1978)
Mrs Lorna Denton JPParent Member of National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations National Executive; Secretary, Derbyshire Federation of Parent Teacher Associations
Mr LCS GreenHeadmaster, Northfield Comprehensive School, Birmingham (from 12 January 1978)
Mr AH Jennings CBEHeadmaster, Ecclesfield Comprehensive School, Sheffield
Mr PH Halsey MVODepartment of Education and Science (from 5 September 1977)
Councillor Peter HortonChairman, Association of Metropolitan Authorities Education Committee; Chairman, Sheffield Education Committee
Mr JA Hudson CBDepartment of Education and Science
Dr Barbara E Marsh JPChairman, Shropshire Education Committee
Mr Deryck E Mumford CBEPrincipal, Cambridge College of Arts and Technology


[page viii]

Mr BWE Pearson JPChairman, Education and Training Committee, Birmingham Chamber of Industry and Commerce
Dr William TaylorDirector, University of London Institute of Education
Mrs Pat TurnerNational Woman Officer, General and Municipal Workers Union (to 19 September 1977)
Mr JE WilliamsHeadmaster, Prestatyn High School, Clwyd, Wales
Miss Sheila D Wood CBEHon. Secretary, Joint Executive Committee of the Associations of Head Masters, Head Mistresses, Assistant Masters and Assistant Mistresses (the Joint Four)

JOINT SECRETARIES TO THE COMMITTEE

Mr AED ChamierDepartment of Education and Science
Mr PM DinesJoint Secretary, Schools Council for Curriculum and Examinations

Appointments shown are those held by members at the time of their appointment to the Steering Committee.


The estimated cost of the production of the Report (Parts I and II) is £195,909, of which £56,909 represents the estimated cost of printing and publication.


[page 1]

CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION

1. In July 1976 the Schools Council submitted to the Secretary of State for Education and Science a recommendation that the General Certificate of Education (GCE) O Level and the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) examinations should be replaced by a common system of examining at 16+*. In October that year the Secretary of State informed the Council that, although a common system could have considerable advantages, the proposal was subject to major uncertainties which needed to be resolved before a decision could be taken, and that a further study of outstanding difficulties would be undertaken by the Department of Education and Science and Her Majesty's Inspectorate.

2. We were appointed by the Secretary of State to oversee that study. The first of our meetings was held at the end of March 1977 and in the ensuing fifteen months we held a further twelve meetings. To help us in our work, we set up two study groups, one to consider educational matters, the other to consider costs. The membership of these study groups is given in Appendices A and B; each group included a good number of our own members. We are grateful to the groups for their reports, which we are forwarding to the Secretary of State with our own and upon which we have based a substantial part of this report.

3. Being a Steering Committee, we did not ourselves seek or receive either written or oral evidence from outside bodies, but through the membership and activities of the study groups, and through HM Inspectorate and the staffs of the Department of Education and Science and the Schools Council, we kept in touch with the views of examining boards and others with special knowledge of issues involved**. Our chairman arranged to hold three meetings with representatives of all the CSE and GCE boards.

Background

4. The CSE and O Level examination systems have a number of features in common. Although the CSE boards operate under conditions laid down by the Secretary of State both kinds of boards are independent; the Secretary of State recognises the certificates without controlling any of the boards' procedures. Both systems provide public examinations for candidates at the age of about 16 and have accumulated much experience and expertise in educational matters, particularly the preparation of examination syllabuses and the

*The recommendation relates to both England and Wales and, as such, is also of concern to the Secretary of State for Wales by reason of his responsibility for schools in the Principality. Appropriate references to the Secretary of State in this report should be read accordingly.

**One of our members received views from a number of employers on the nature of examination certificates (see Chapter II, paragraph 53).


[page 2]

application of a wide variety of assessment techniques. Both systems also involve the administration of substantial 'businesses'. In the summer of 1976 the boards between them handled over five million subject entries.* To cope with this amount of work year after year is a formidable achievement; to create and maintain public confidence in the examining procedures, as both systems have done, is perhaps a greater one.

5. The differences between the two systems, however, are also important. Many of the present GCE boards have a long history, preceding the introduction of the GCE O Level in 1951; most have close links with the universities and all have strong teacher representation. The CSE boards were established more recently, with CSE being first examined in 1965; they are controlled by elected teacher majorities and have a substantial local authority representation. The target populations of the two examinations are different, although with some overlap (the O Level examination tending to be aimed at the upper 20 per cent of the full ability range and CSE catering for the next 40 per cent); and each has its own grading system. The highest of the 5 CSE grades (Grade 1) is by definition equivalent to Grade C or above at GCE O Level,** but there is no defined equivalence at other levels. The GCE boards are responsible for providing sixth form examinations (A Levels); the CSE boards do not have a comparable role although they provide, as does also a consortium of GCE boards, pilot courses on a small scale for a proposed new examination (the Certificate of Extended Education) for the 'new sixth formers'.

6. The areas covered by the boards of the two systems are dissimilar too. The 8 GCE boards for the most part draw candidates from schools and colleges across the country, whereas each of the 14 CSE boards draws candidates from its own region alone. It is not surprising therefore that, in serving different markets, the boards have developed their own separate examining approaches. The CSE boards, for example, have tended to have a higher proportion of examinations set and marked internally by a school or group of schools, and moderated externally by the board, than most of the GCE boards.

7. The existence of two separate substantial families of boards and the overlaps between them can appear confusing, even haphazard, at times to those outside the schools who have infrequent contact with examinations. Although bringing the two systems together is not easy the Schools Council decided as far back as 1970 that there were sufficient advantages in doing so to justify looking into the possibility of change. The Council again described the case for a common system when making their recommendations to the Secretary of State in 1976.

8. The more significant of the points which the Council then made appear to us to be these. (i) At present schools have to make decisions, which are sometimes difficult, about whether to prepare pupils for O Level or CSE examinations, perhaps as early as the end of their third year of secondary education. In fact,

*A list of GCE and CSE boards with a table showing the number of subject entries for each board in 1976 is at Appendix C.

**The Schools Council define CSE Grade 1 as follows: Grade 1 is to be awarded to a pupil whose ability is such that he might reasonably have secured a Grade A, B or C in O Level, had he followed a course of study leading to that examination instead of a CSE course.


[page 3]

children's abilities do not fall neatly into categories and such early choice cannot take account of their possible development in the fourth and fifth years. (ii) This separation into two groups tends to 'mark off' pupils from one another, with CSE being regarded by many as necessarily second best despite the fact that a Grade 1 has equivalence to O Level grades. (iii) CSE and GCE courses often diverge and place sometimes arbitrary restrictions on a school's organisation; a common system would leave schools freer to group pupils in the manner best suited to their educational needs. (iv) Most schools find it necessary under the dual system to deal with at least two examination boards, each with its own methods, requirements and timetable; and many schools deal with more than two boards. A common system should relieve schools of some of the consequential administrative burdens, and reduce the extent to which varying examination timetables disrupt teaching. (v) The two forms of present certificates and their separate grading schemes are confusing for the general public, and particularly for those users* of the certificates who are less familiar with the system. If a satisfactory common system could be devised it would remove this source of confusion.

The Schools Council's proposals

9. With these considerations in mind the Schools Council, which is charged with the task of national coordination in the field of examinations, set in train a range of studies and joint examinations intended to test the feasibility of a common system. The evidence from this work led the Council to recommend the introduction of a common system, and the key elements in their recommendations (see out in full in Appendix D) are, as we see them, that:

(a) a common system should be designed for the same range of ability as O Level and CSE together;

(b) examinations under the three modes** should be available, and to ensure reasonable comparability, criteria should be established for syllabuses and schemes of assessment;

(c) results should be expressed in terms of seven grades on a single scale which should be linked to the present O Level and CSE grades for an introductory period;

(d) the administrative structure should be such that the examinations would be teacher controlled, and regionally based, and that schools should have a choice of board;

(e) the Schools Council should have a coordinating role.

*The term 'users' refers in our report to all those outside the schools who look to examination certificates for evidence of achievement. It includes parents, employers, professional bodies and those responsible for further and higher education. Some users, such as employers and colleges and universities, make specific use of examination results to help determine whether young people are qualified for jobs or courses of further education.

**Mode IExaminations conducted by the examining board on syllabuses set and published by the board.
Mode IIExaminations conducted by the examining board on syllabuses devised by individual schools or groups of schools and approved by the board.
Mode IIIExaminations set and marked internally by individual schools or groups of schools, but moderated by the board, on syllabuses devised by individual schools or groups of schools.


[page 4]

10. The Council recognised that further work would be needed to reach agreement on an administrative structure and that further development work in curriculum and assessment techniques would be essential before the introduction of a common system. It expected that a common system would be fully operational five years after a decision by the Secretary of State in favour of the proposals.

11. We concentrated our work on the areas of uncertainty which the Secretary of State had identified as arising from the Schools Council's proposals and we regarded it as our main function to seek acceptable ways of resolving the uncertainties. We noted carefully the potential advantages which the Schools Council saw in a common system, because clearly there would be little point in adopting such a system if the practical difficulties could only be overcome by sacrificing all or most of those advantages. We make it clear, in the remainder of this report, where our conclusions could qualify the advantages foreseen by the Council. However, in considering the issues before us, we did not consider it our business to embark on a fundamental reassessment of the strength of the arguments for a common system. The Secretary of State had already acknowledged these and did not ask to have them reconsidered.

12. The most important of the Secretary of State's reservations related to educational matters. Although she shared the Schools Council's view that a common system was desirable, she sought the firmest possible assurances that a common system of examining could be introduced without creating major educational difficulties. She noted that she 'must be certain that a common system can cater for young people with a very wide range of ability without impairing the reliability and usefulness of the examination results, not least in qualifying young people for employment or for further education'. Our principal task was to consider whether it was feasible for a common system to meet these requirements, and to present our conclusions to the Secretary of State. We express our views on this and other educational matters in Chapter II. Our conclusion is that a common system is feasible.

13. The Secretary of State also said that, assuming a common system to be feasible, certain practical matters nevertheless had to be considered further. The Schools Council had described four possible ways of administering a common system but did not recommend any particular way. The Council expressed the view that the administrative problems could be solved after a decision in principle in favour of a common system. The Secretary of State indicated, however, that she was not prepared to take a decision until a clearer picture of the likely administrative structure for a common system was available. Our conclusions and recommendations on this are set out in Chapter III. Our main recommendation is that a common system should be administered by groups of boards, each group including at least one GCE and one CSE board.

14. In Chapter IV we comment on questions of cost. This too, featured among the uncertainties identified by the Secretary of State. Recognising that it had not been easy for the Schools Council to attempt to estimate the cost of a common system against that of the present arrangements, she nevertheless considered it desirable to have a further study made of transitional and recurrent costs likely to arise in examining boards and in schools. We make no precise estimates but provide maximum and minimum figures within which these costs would be likely to fall.


[page 5]

15. Public confidence in the examination system is at the heart of the matter in a number of contexts - and again it is a point to which the Secretary of State referred. A common system needs to build on and safeguard the confidence that already exists in the GCE O Level and CSE examinations. We therefore express views where appropriate in our report on the general effect which a common system might have on users of examination certificates and have drawn up our recommendations with their interests in mind, as well as those of the candidates, schools and boards.

Other matters

16. The Secretary of State had asked us to undertake a specific piece of work to look into some uncertainties about a common system of examining and to make recommendations about its feasibility. Nevertheless we were aware of general questions which are often debated concerning the need for, and place of, examinations in society and the imperfections which are inherent in the nature of any system of examining. As a Committee we were not constituted, nor had we time, to re-examine and come to a view on all these broad issues as they merit, although we kept them in mind as a background to our work. In the circumstances we did, however, accept two premises as necessary to our work, namely that public examinations would remain an essential feature of our educational system for the foreseeable future and that they would continue to fulfil at least two purposes - serving to record achievement and to provide qualifications used subsequently outside the schools.

17. In the same way it has not been our task to attempt to find a remedy for each and every deficiency in our present dual system of examining. Nevertheless we have sought wherever possible to identify ways in which failings observable in the present system, whether or not related to its dual nature, could be remedied in moving to a common system. It seemed to us that a change of this magnitude, involving additional burdens on many and some inevitable disturbance, ought not to be made without at the same time taking every opportunity to make other adjustments that are desirable. A new system should, moreover, have sufficient flexibility, and the capacity, to allow for change, development and improvement.

18. In our work we naturally had to give attention to certain matters outside our immediate field. We took account of the other existing examination responsibilities of the GCE boards for A Levels and examinations overseas. We were also alive to the coming decline in the size of the age groups from which examination candidates in a common system would be drawn* and the proposals at present under consideration for changes in examining at 17 and 18. But our aim has been to avoid making independent studies of matters of this sort, and, so far as there are decisions to be taken on other issues, to avoid prejudicing those decisions. In making our recommendations we have sought to ensure, in particular, that they need not disturb existing A Level arrangements.

*For example, the 16 year old age group will reach a maximum of 826,000 in 1980 and then decline continuously until at least 1993 (when children born in 1977 reach the age of 16) at which point it will total 546,000.


[page 6]

CHAPTER II: EDUCATIONAL MATTERS

Feasibility

19. Of the matters referred to us by the Secretary of State, uncertainties about the educational feasibility of a common system of examining were of first importance. Only if these could be resolved was it necessary for study of the administrative and cost aspects to be carried through and recommendations made. We therefore kept in close touch with the work of our Educational Study Group through regular accounts of their meetings and through cross membership (the chairman and five members of the Group were also members of the Steering Committee). Progress in the Group encouraged us to pursue concurrently our discussions on administrative and other aspects of a common system.

Report of the Educational Study Group

20. Because of the importance of the Group's findings to our task, and in order that our own report may be read as a self-contained document, we summarise the Group's report in this chapter. For the most part it is expressed in terms which can be generally understood by the lay as well as the professional reader; where necessary we have added an explanation or made comments of our own, making it clear in either case where we have done so.

Definition of a common system

21. The Group defined a common system of examining as:

'A single system providing examinations designed for candidates in the same ability range as that for which the GCE O Level and CSE examinations together are currently designed. The examinations may take a number of forms ranging from a common examination where all candidates take the same papers or other tests, to a differentiated examination where candidates, in addition to taking a common paper, may choose between alternative papers or tests set at different levels of difficulty. All grades must however be awarded on a single scale and all certificates must bear a common title.'*
Range of ability covered by a common system

22. We accepted this definition but think it will be helpful to give a fuller explanation of what is meant by 'the ability range ... for which GCE O Level and CSE ... are designed'. These examinations are in general designed for the most able 60 % of all pupils in each subject and individuals may therefore fall within this range for some subjects and not for others. But in practice the examinations in a good many subjects are taken by candidates from a different range. On the one hand, the range may be narrower; for example, Craft, Design and Technology mainly attracts candidates from the lower part of the 60%

*The Schools Council recommended the title 'Certificate of Education'.


[page 7]

range while French and the physical sciences, for example, mainly draw from the upper part of the range. Whether examinations in such subjects in future attract candidates from a wider range will depend largely on the development of suitable syllabuses. A common system could well encourage this but for the present there is no means of testing its feasibility for an appreciably wider range in these subjects. In English language and mathematics, on the other hand, candidates come from a range exceeding 60 % - in English language four fifths of all pupils take the examinations. We noted differing views about whether this is desirable but decided that it would not be practicable to make a special study of the question, which we had not in any case been called upon to resolve. What we had to consider was whether a common system could cater at least for candidates who in each subject take O Level and CSE at present and are drawn from the upper 60 % of the whole ability range.

The evidence reviewed by the Group

23. Most of the evidence about the feasibility of a common system came from the studies and joint examinations* carried out by consortia of GCE and CSE boards. A number of joint examinations was offered in each of the main subject areas, some attracting large numbers of entries. In other subjects there were fewer joint examinations and fewer entries. However, the Group also took into account other evidence, particularly that from O Level and CSE examinations, where this was thought to be significant. The joint examinations covered all the subjects that are of principal concern to users of examination certificates and which together account for the great majority of all examination entries. Inevitably they did not cover all subjects (for example, the less frequently taken modern languages) but the Group judged that the subjects not covered had enough similarities with at least some of the areas in which joint examinations were held to justify reaching general conclusions about them.

24. In reviewing the evidence, the Group shared our general approach to the imperfections which are found in any system of examining. They had no doubt that, if the present O Level and CSE examinations had been subjected to the same scrutiny given to the joint examinations, a good many of the same problems would have been found to exist. Where they considered that any shortcomings in the joint examinations were shared by O Level and CSE, they set them aside in coming to conclusions about feasibility, although drawing attention wherever possible to opportunities for making improvements in a new system.

25. Careful attention was paid to the suitability of syllabuses and assessment procedures for candidates throughout the range of ability entering the joint examinations in question, and to the presence of sufficient numbers of able and less able candidates to enable valid judgements to be made in these matters. In most cases it was found that the consortia operating the joint examinations had

*The Schools Council sponsored a series of feasibility studies, mostly involving operational joint 16+ examinations taken by candidates in place of, or in addition to, O Levels and CSEs. The examinations were joint in the sense that they were devised and offered by consortia of GCE and CSE boards, although leading to the award of O Level and CSE certificates. After the Schools Council ceased to sponsor the joint examinations, some consortia and individual boards continued to offer 16+ examinations based on this earlier work. In the remainder of our report the term joint examinations refers to all 16+ examinations up to and including 1977.


[page 8]

devised syllabuses on the basis of elements from existing O Level and CSE syllabuses and, in some subjects, the result was that parts of syllabuses and examinations designed for either end of the ability range were omitted. Some of the joint examinations were thus more suited to candidates in the middle of the ability range for that subject. Nevertheless, the Group were satisfied in most cases that sufficient numbers of candidates of differing abilities took the joint examinations and have made it clear where attention must be given to extending syllabuses in order to provide for candidates at either end of the ability range.

Curricular issues

26. The Group stood aside from issues concerning curricular approach and method. In those subjects, such as English, mathematics and the sciences, where these matters are under debate, they took note of differing views but did not comment on them. Rather, they considered that a common system of examining should have sufficient flexibility to embrace a wide range of approaches to learning and to adapt itself to change in the curriculum. Indeed the decisive consideration when examining techniques are being considered, and one which we ourselves had constantly in mind, is the relationship between curriculum and examinations. We wholly accept the generally agreed principle, which was followed by the Group, that the curriculum should lead. In our view it follows that, quite apart from the need to devise examinations which will provide for the necessary discrimination* among candidates, the syllabuses must reflect the needs of all the candidates and the examinations must give opportunities to all of them to display their capabilities. Subsequent references in our report to the ability of the examinations to 'discriminate' should be read in this context.

Nature of examinations in a common system

27. It will already be clear that a common system is of its nature complex, since it has to cater for a wider range of pupil needs and subjects and in a wider range of circumstances, than either of the two present systems. The Group imply this in stating their view that the joint examinations showed that a common system would require a greater variety of assessment techniques than either the CSE or O Level examinations. For example, although most of the joint examinations employed the traditional written papers, there will be a need for greater use of practical tests and oral assessment. Moreover, assessment over a period of time by the teacher who knows the pupil and his work (school-based assessment) was found useful in searching out skills and understanding which may be more readily tested in this way than in a formal written examination externally assessed by the board. The teacher can observe and assess the way in which the pupil sets about the process of solving practical problems in science or of designing and making in Craft, Design and Technology and how he develops a response to criticism in activities such as writing. These advantages do not apply only to the average and less able candidates; there is evidence that abler pupils also can be effectively judged by school-based assessment pitched at the appropriate level.

*The capacity of a test to distinguish between the performances of all the candidates and to enable appropriate grades to be awarded.


[page 9]

28. The joint examinations between them offered the range of examining strategies described below. The first three of these are usually referred to as 'common examinations' but all came within the meaning of the expression 'a common system of examining':

(i) common papers taken by all candidates;

(ii) common papers taken by all candidates, but containing questions designed to present different degrees of difficulty (for example, structured questions which all candidates are expected to attempt and which have a built-in 'incline of difficulty'*);

(iii) common papers taken by all candidates, but containing questions/part-questions with stated different mark weightings (tariff questions) which involve choice of question on the part of the candidate;

(iv) a common paper taken by all candidates, plus alternative papers reflecting different approaches to the subject and/or different forms of assessment, but which are not intended to be at varying levels of difficulty. Candidates can attain the highest grades whichever papers they choose;

(v) a common paper taken by all candidates, plus alternative papers which are intended to be at varying levels of difficulty. If the candidate chooses an easier alternative paper he cannot normally attain the highest grades.

29. There is an important distinction, so far as the candidate is concerned, between the approaches to examining described at (i) - (iii) and (iv) - (v) respectively. The former categories (common examinations) do not require the candidate to choose between alternative papers, although they may involve him in choosing between questions at various levels of difficulty or carrying different marks. This kind of choice is exercised by the candidate on the day of the examination usually with previous guidance from the teacher. On the other hand, categories (iv) - (v) require the candidate and teacher to choose between papers, perhaps early in the course of preparing for the examination.

30. Many of the joint examinations adopted the 'common examination' approach in order to avoid this need for prior choice between papers. The success of this approach in any subject depended largely on the extent to which questions in common papers could evoke responses at the different levels to be expected from candidates over a wide range of ability. The evidence which the Group considered suggested that in some subjects the common examination approach was successful. In others they judged, after considering the evidence, that there was likely to be a need to adopt one of the other approaches involving candidates in a choice between alternative papers, usually alternatives at different intended levels of difficulty. This applied particularly to those subjects, like mathematics and modern languages, where the range of skills is wide and/or where certain concepts may be beyond the reach of many candidates. In such cases 'differentiated' papers are needed to enable all candidates to show what they can do and to allow the inclusion of items appropriate to some candidates only, without distorting the curriculum for others.

*A series of questions (or papers) which grow progressively more difficult to enable candidates to go as far as they are able.


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31. The Group noted that the need to offer candidates a choice of different papers whilst still placing all of them on a single grading scale presented certain problems. Thus, in the case of the approach described at (v) above, comparison of performance on hard and easy papers is especially difficult when, for example, a poor performance on the hard paper has to be judged against a good performance on the easier one. However, the practice adopted in some of the joint examinations of having some papers, or other elements of assessment, common to all candidates proved successful and seemed a promising way forward. Moreover, the boards already have substantial relevant experience in comparing answers to different sections of examinations or to different questions intended to be of equal difficulty; they rely partly on statistical and moderating techniques, but above all on the experience and skill of the examiners. All in all, the Group were satisfied that techniques exist to overcome the difficulties.

32. The Schools Council had recommended that the three present examining modes should be retained in a common system. These are defined in Chapter I (footnote on page 3) but the important distinction to bear in mind is that Mode I places the major responsibility for devising the syllabuses and for examining on the board and Mode III places the main responsibility on the school, subject to moderation by the board. The Group accepted the broad intention behind the recommendation, but questioned whether the mode terminology any longer reflected the wide variety of practice already to be found in the present system. For example there are many 'mixed mode' schemes where the syllabus is in part devised and examined by the board and in part devised and examined by the school; and such arrangements not infrequently apply to what are nominally Mode I schemes. Their report implies that in a common system, catering for the expected ability range, the tendency for more examinations to involve an element of school assessment would be generally reinforced, but that it would be increasingly unrealistic to attempt to restrict such arrangements to the three defined modes. The Group considered it important to preserve the educational advantages which derive from teachers being involved in the preparation of syllabuses or elements of syllabuses for their pupils, as well as in cooperating closely with boards in the assessment of candidates' performance. We ourselves are in general agreement with these views and we consider that there would be advantage in moving away from present mode terminology, with the aim of better describing the balance between the responsibilities of schools and boards for syllabuses and assessment procedures. We also agree with the Group that an examination of the Mode I type should be available in each main subject and we return later in this chapter (see paragraph 50) to the question of board responsibilities for, and the application of similar criteria to, all examinations in whatever mode.

The Group's findings

33. Having considered the evidence in all the main subjects* the Group concluded that a common system of examining is feasible. By this they meant, in essence, that candidates in the ability range for which a common system must cater can be placed appropriately on a single grading scale and that the intro-

*Evidence was studied in the following subject areas: English language and literature, mathematics, sciences (physics, chemistry and biology), history, geography, modern languages (French and German), classics, commerce, social science, religious studies, craft design and technology, home economics, needlecraft and dress, art, and music.


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duction of a common system need not affect adversely the education they receive. In the subject chapters of their report, the Group considered the different approaches adopted in the joint examinations and gave their views on the degree to which they were successful. In some subjects (for example, biology) the evidence suggested that a common examination can provide a satisfactory approach - that is, questions can be devised within common papers capable of evoking a variety of response which reflects appropriate study by the candidates and is sufficient to secure adequate discrimination across the range. In some other subjects (such as mathematics) the Group's judgement from the evidence was that an approach to examining is needed which involves a choice of papers designed to be of different degrees of difficulty. In yet others (such as religious studies) the evidence from the joint examinations was slight, but they believed that they could be catered for in various ways within a common system. For these last subjects in particular they came to their view with the help of evidence from outside the joint examinations and by analogy with other subjects. In no case do they prescribe particular solutions since they recognise that present procedures may be modified or new approaches devised.

34. It is not possible here to reproduce in full the Group's detailed findings subject by subject. But we believe it will be helpful to summarise briefly what was said about some of them. We have chosen mathematics, English language and, from the sciences, biology, partly because of the special importance of English and mathematics and partly because, with biology, they illustrate why a common system will need to embrace a range of different forms of examining.

35. Mathematics O Level and CSE examinations attract large numbers of candidates from a wide range of ability. The subject, like English language, is often required as a qualification by employers and higher and further education institutions. Seven consortia originally offered joint examinations; of these, five were still in being in 1977 and in that year attracted about 26,000 candidates; the whole of the intended ability range was represented although some of the examinations attracted a disproportionately small number of more able candidates. Taken together the syllabuses were varied and well considered and tended to support the view that syllabuses appropriate to a common system could be devised. The nature of the subject - embracing the acquisition of basic skills of numeracy and the understanding of abstract concepts - gave rise to problems where consortia adopted the common examination approach; all those that did so have switched or are now switching to an examination with papers differentiated by level of difficulty. The Group found that three of the consortia had offered examinations with choice of paper which worked well enough to point towards a satisfactory approach within a common system; all these included an optional 'hard' paper based on an extended syllabus either as an addition to compulsory papers or as an alternative to another part of the examination.

36. English language examinations attract more candidates than any other and the candidates are drawn from an exceptionally wide ability range. Seven consortia offered joint examinations, of which five are still operating; they attracted substantial numbers of candidates, about 36,000 in 1977. Although a disproportionately large number were drawn from the lower end of the intended


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ability range, sufficient numbers obtained O Level grades A and B to enable conclusions to be drawn from the evidence. The aims, objectives and content of the examinations were especially important because detailed syllabuses are not normally provided for English language; three of the joint examinations were found to be particularly helpful in showing teachers what was required and, taken overall, the consortia demonstrated that clear aims and objectives can be devised for a common system. All but one of the examinations tested a broad sample of aims and so helped to provide a clear framework for the course.

37. All the consortia adopted the 'common examination' approach to a common system. This held some promise. Two of the consortia tested successfully a broad and balanced range of written skills. Many of the consortia tested listening-comprehension and speaking, and assessment of these activities by the school, as opposed to formal orals, appeared to offer the best prospects. On the other hand, the discussion-type essay and précis did not fit successfully into the common examination approach; these forms of composition, and to a lesser extent others, tended to be beyond the reach of all but the abler candidates. One consortium succeeded in setting passages to test comprehension of writing at a level accessible to most candidates, but in general passages used were suitable to the more able and beyond the less able.

38. We ourselves gave the Group's findings on English language very careful attention. We noted that the more successful joint examinations had successfully tested a broad range of written and oral skills in a common examination. This represents an important addition to the knowledge and experience which the examining boards have already gained over many years in catering for candidates drawn from a very wide range of ability. We consider that this experience provides additional support for the Group's conclusions. These conclusions were that a common system of examining in English language is feasible and could, though it need not necessarily, take the form of a common examination provided that this is carefully and skilfully designed and makes provision for suitable choice for candidates to show their respective capabilities. The Group found that some of the joint examinations were more successful than others in solving the problems associated with a common examination; they took the view that further work should involve the sharing of experience and should build on the more promising lines of development.

39. Biology. Examinations in the three main science subjects tend at present to be taken by candidates from the upper part of the range of ability for which O Level and CSE are in general designed, although biology attracts candidates from a wider range of ability than physics and chemistry. The joint examinations did not cover any newer types of science course which could amongst other things help to extend the ability range from which candidates are drawn. Five consortia originally offered joint examinations in biology; of these, three were still in being in 1977 and attracted in that year about 14,000 candidates drawn, according to the consortia, from over the whole intended ability range for the subject. The syllabuses were suited to this range of candidates and reflected O Level and CSE practice. Unlike physics and chemistry, for which the evidence suggested a need for differentiated papers, the joint examinations in biology offered evidence in two cases that a common examination approach could


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succeed. Candidates responded to the same tasks in different ways and at different levels according to their abilities and this was successfully complemented by teacher assessment and the use of optional questions at varying levels of difficulty.

Further work recommended by the Group

40. In the concluding chapter of their report, the Group recommended some further work which must be carried out in the period leading up to the introduction of a common system because, in their view, that system cannot work without it; in addition, some possible improvements are identified which are not essential to the introduction of a common system but for which the proposed changes afford a good opportunity. The major essential task is to devise, for each subject, aims, objectives, syllabuses and forms of assessment to suit the ability range of candidates likely to be presented for that subject and enable both the ablest and the weakest candidates to show what they can do. Development is especially needed (i) in major subjects for which examinations have not yet been developed by some consortia; (ii) in those subjects, combined forms of subjects or aspects of subjects which were not treated by any of the consortia in the joint examinations; and (iii) in subjects represented in the joint examinations but in need of reappraisal.

41. The Group recognised that it may not be possible to deal with all this further work at once and priorities should be established, with these considerations in mind: the importance of a subject by virtue of the number of candidates taking it, its importance as a qualification to users, and the technical difficulty of the transition from a dual to a common system (which will be greater for subjects attracting a wide range of ability). On these counts English, mathematics, sciences, history and geography must be given high priority. Subjects where the ability range is not as wide (eg modern languages and craft subjects) will deserve a somewhat lower priority, not because they are intrinsically less important but simply because preparing for the introduction of a common system necessitates fewer changes of existing practice. The same considerations should be applied in determining the urgency to be attached to other subjects.

42. The Group recommended the application of two general principles in the preparation of new syllabuses for a common system: that schools should have an appropriate choice of syllabus (apart from the opportunity for a school to offer its own syllabus, as at present in Mode III) and that the range and scope of available syllabuses should be as clear and intelligible as possible, to users as well as to schools. Some rationalisation may nevertheless be possible where a large number of existing syllabuses have a great deal in common. The system will be better understood, and more intelligently used, to the extent either that syllabus titles themselves give a clear indication of the content or that information on this subject is readily accessible to those who may need it.

43. Turning from the syllabus to the examination, the Group considered how far reliance can be placed on a common examination, and to what extent it will be necessary to have recourse to some other form of examination involving the use of differentiated papers. In some major subjects it appeared possible to discriminate adequately over the subject ability range by a common examination.


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It is possible that further development work taking account of experience in GCE and CSE, as well as in the joint examinations, may reveal wider scope for a common examination than at present seems likely. On the basis of present evidence, however, the Group considered that some subjects are likely to require differentiated papers. Since few of the joint examinations took this form more extensive development work is needed to identify the most promising applications in particular subjects, and to resolve attendant difficulties such as comparability between options, and the balance between, for example, poor performance on hard papers and good performance on easy ones. The range of work now to be tackled, therefore, includes the identification of syllabus material that can be examined in common, and the definition of objectives and syllabus content for specific levels of ability; the basis for choice and options in the examination and the comparability of such options for the purpose of grading; analysis of the utilisation of various techniques such as essay questions, structured questions, objective questions, and tariff questions, and their relationship to the performance of pupils of different levels of ability.

Our approach to the Educational Study Group's report

44. We accepted the Group's findings which were, in essence, that it is feasible to examine all the main subjects within a common system provided a substantial programme of development work is carried out before the system is established. In reviewing this development work, we had in mind the fact that when the joint examinations were first mounted at the initiative of the Schools Council, there was little experience of examining across the full range of candidates taking O Level and CSE. The position has now changed. A great deal of evidence has accumulated and the findings of the Council and the Educational Study Group are available. It is now necessary to build on lessons learned and on the combined experience of the GCE and CSE boards in catering for different although overlapping bands of ability. We consider that a more co-ordinated approach to development work is essential to ensure that preparations are soundly based and take full account of the suggestions for further work in the Group's report. Only in this way can preparations for a common system be completed satisfactorily and without undue delay. We consider that the task of co-ordination, together with the responsibility for devising criteria for syllabuses and assessment procedures, should fall to a central body which is likely to be the Schools Council.

45. We also noted the marked difference of emphasis between the 'common examination' form taken by most of the joint examinations and the findings of the Group which pointed towards a need in a number of important subjects for examinations including alternative papers. There is little doubt that the consortia, for the most part, used common examinations because they felt that this was the best way to secure the full organisational advantages seen in a common system. Nevertheless, the Group took the view that, despite the need in some subjects for alternative papers involving a prior choice by candidates, most of the advantages seen in a common system would remain.

46. We agreed with the Group but considered the point further because of its importance. Some of the advantages of a common system which the Schools Council had identified (see Chapter I, paragraph 8) would be little affected, if at


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all - for example, the lessening of administrative burdens on schools and increased understanding on the part of users about the meaning of certificates and grades. Nor do the Group's findings seriously erode the other main advantages which the Council foresaw in terms of school organisation. In some subjects, a common examination was shown to be successful and it may prove feasible in others following further development work. Where alternative papers are needed they may well overlap. Moreover, within a common system, such papers can be set in forms and at levels of difficulty proper to each subject, with the proportion of candidates for whom a more difficult option is appropriate varying from subject to subject. It should be possible to defer decisions about which papers the candidates are to take to a point where these can be more soundly based; to teach all candidates together for at least part of the course; and to organise teaching groups more flexibly than under the present dual system.

47. Having accepted the Group's judgement that a common system was feasible from an educational standpoint, and having considered some major implications of their findings, we went on to apply some broader tests and to consider whether any future work, over and above that which the Group called for, appeared necessary before such a system could be introduced. Our main concern was to establish whether, and to identify the best means whereby, a common system could secure and maintain public confidence outside the schools.

48. Examinations are commonly seen to fulfil a number of different roles, both within the school and more widely. Public confidence depends principally on the role of examinations in attesting to parents and others outside the school an individual's achievement at school and in providing a qualification for employment or courses of further education. Generally speaking the present public examinations enjoy the confidence of users of the certificates as a test of performance in the subjects taken by candidates. Although examination results are not a comprehensive guide to standards of performance in schools, considerable harm would be done to confidence if acceptance of the consistency of examination standards from year to year and their comparability over the country was diminished. Pupils would suffer uncertainties in selection for jobs and places in higher and further education. Employers, colleges and universities would be tempted to introduce their own tests, which would tend to narrow syllabuses and bring about undesirable variations in the curriculum.

49. A common system would, of course, be more understandable in some respects - and therefore likely to gain confidence - than the present dual arrangements. The single grading structure and title would leave less room for confusion. These improvements may not in themselves, however, be sufficient to secure confidence in a new system which brings together O Level and CSE, each of which serve in overlapping but slightly different ways to 'attest' and 'qualify' pupils after they leave school. Both parts of the dual system contain within them variations in syllabus and assessment procedure; but there are some differences of emphasis between the two parts. The CSE provides successfully (often through Mode III arrangements) and to a greater extent than O Level for those needs which vary from school to school or region to region. At the


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same time CSE Grade 1 is intended to serve the same purpose as an O Level and the examination is used as a qualification by young people leaving school for employment or further education or as a basis for A Level work. O Level provides syllabuses which are seen, rightly or wrongly, as having nationally more common content and a uniform standard resting to a greater extent on board-based forms of assessment (Mode I); they are used as qualifications like CSE but carry more weight as a foundation for A Level courses leading to higher education. These distinctive features exist side by side in the dual system and a common system must be flexible enough to encompass both. This means, in our view, that the schools and the users of examination certificates will have confidence in a common system only if it is seen to operate within a framework which ensures the survival of the characteristics associated with both O Level and CSE and which does not allow the displacement of either.

50. Bearing in mind the considerations outlined in paragraphs 47-49, we took the view that, while the exact blend of school and board responsibility for syllabuses and assessment will vary according to the nature of the subject and the needs of the candidates, the need to ensure confidence in a common system on the part of users underlines the importance that will have to be attached to board responsibilities for all examinations, particularly for the moderation of school-based syllabuses and assessment. Confidence in standards and comparability between examinations throughout the country will be reinforced by the knowledge that all boards are applying broadly similar criteria, agreed with a central co-ordinating body, to examinations in whatever mode and covering the syllabuses, assessment and moderation procedures. Whatever procedures are adopted it must be clearly recognised that the responsibility of the examining authority for the standards underlying its certificates is unaffected. In deciding how that responsibility should be exercised, those concerned will, of course, need to have regard to the characteristics of different subjects and their development, the capacities and needs of the schools and the efficiency under different circumstances of the available examining techniques.

51. Employers and institutions of higher and further education express anxiety under the present dual system about the variations in content between syllabuses bearing the same title, about unfamiliar subjects and about the multiplicity of closely related subject titles. We recognised that the problem of related subject titles arises in particular with Mode III examinations and that uncertainty about syllabus content on the part of users is felt more often in relation to CSE than O Level. A common system cannot be expected automatically to remove such anxieties entirely and some variation in syllabuses is both natural and right. The introduction of a new system offers the opportunity, however, of making improvements and it would help to gain the confidence of users in a new system if the boards, with the help of a central co-ordinating body, could bring these about.

52. Some users, especially those in higher and further education, are particularly concerned with the extent to which knowledge and skills of the kind expected of more able pupils are tested by examinations. At present this is done to a large extent by O Levels, which are designed for the upper 20% of the whole


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ability range. One of the requirements of a common system is that it should serve as well in this respect, whilst still providing as satisfactorily for the other candidates whose needs are of equal importance. The Educational Study Group's report, by underlining the necessity in some subjects for the use of alternative papers, points to one important way in which this can be achieved. Where the subject requires, alternative papers or questions must be made available so that appropriate content (such as the more abstract concepts in mathematics) and skills (such as writing in modern languages) can be tested in the more able, whilst alternative papers and tests are available for the other candidates.

53. We were aware that some employers find it especially difficult in the present system to interpret the examination certificates. We considered whether to recommend that efforts should be made to assist employers, and perhaps professional bodies, by including more information on examination certificates. This could in theory be attempted by devising a brief description of what the different grades are intended to imply, but there are many practical difficulties about providing concise yet informative details of tills kind. We did not undertake any survey of employer opinion, but the evidence available to us suggested that employers often use examination certificates as one piece of evidence and supplement them in various ways - for example by their own tests in subjects of most interest to them. We consider that new syllabuses used in a common system should be made readily available to users and that employers should generally be encouraged to turn to schools for more detailed advice about achievements of young people. This would help to make a better match between young people and their careers.

54. We endorse the Schools Council's recommendation that the grading scale used in a common system should be such that the present standards represented by the GCE Grades A, B and C and CSE Grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 should be those used on a common seven point scale, and that there should be an ungraded category for those whose performance does not merit a certificate. It is sometimes argued that fewer grades would be sufficient in a common system, but we believe that users should be able to perceive continuity between the dual and the common system in those parts of the grading structure which are of concern to them. Continuity also means that teachers and examiners will already be familiar with levels of performance expected for each grade and this will help to ensure the maintenance of standards. When a common system is established and has been in operation for some time, it would be possible to reconsider the grading structure. Until then we believe that the Schools Council's recommendations should be adhered to.

55. We have referred above to a possible central co-ordinating body and consider this in greater detail in Chapter III, in the context of the structure of a common system of examining. There is some risk that the greater need in a common system for a variety in forms of examination and in examining techniques will lead to uncertainties and misunderstanding on the part of users which would offset the greater simplicity of a single grading scale and title. We believe that this risk can best be avoided by a strengthening of central co-ordination between the boards to ensure that the procedures underlying


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the examinations are seen as following a comprehensible and reasonably consistent pattern throughout the country. In Chapter III (paragraph 85) we set out our view that general criteria should be agreed centrally for syllabuses and assessment procedures and that in commonly taken subjects board-based syllabuses with board-based assessment should be available to all. We believe that these general criteria will need to be supplemented by criteria applying to examinations in specific subjects widely used as qualifications for subsequent courses and for employment, also agreed by the boards with a central co-ordinating body. The need for such co-ordination was indicated by the Educational Study Group, which recommended that it should be the aim to secure some agreement as to the scope and limits of assessment techniques and as to the conditions and types of task to be set in the interest of comparability. The Group noted that the need for co-ordination is exemplified in English where the differences in approach of boards, in marking and weighting papers, to such matters as spelling and grammar are wide.





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CHAPTER III: STRUCTURE OF THE EXAMINING SYSTEM

Principles relating to administrative change

56. Our second task was to consider and make recommendations about an administrative structure for a common system. We were influenced in our discussions about administration by four major considerations.

57. First, we decided at the outset that it would be necessary to adopt a practical rather than a theoretical approach to administration, designed to utilise the considerable resources which the existing boards already devote to examining. These resources include premises and equipment of a kind that will continue to be required and, above all, experienced staff without whom it would not be possible to make the change to a common system and put it into operation on the timescale envisaged. This has naturally led us to concentrate on ways of integrating the existing boards into a new administrative structure.

58. Secondly, we recognised that examining is a continuous process which takes place every year and the interests of candidates being examined during a period of change to a common system cannot be overlooked. Any administrative changes must be capable of introduction with a minimum of disruption. Changes affecting schools and the certificates should be well understood before implementation, by the schools on the one hand and by the users and the general public on the other.

59. Thirdly, we considered that administrative change must not interfere with the provision of other examinations, notably the A Levels provided by the GCE boards. We recognised that consideration is being given to the possibility of replacement of A Levels by new examinations at N (Normal) and F (Further) levels; a new administrative structure should not create a barrier to their possible introduction. A new structure should also be able to accommodate examinations for a Certificate of Extended Education (for 17 year old 'new sixth formers') if the Secretary of State decides that these should be introduced. Finally a new structure should not discourage the substantial overseas entries for examinations offered by some of the GCE boards.

60. Fourthly, we believed it essential that a new administrative structure should be such as to assist in giving the certificates awarded a national currency. The procedures operated by the boards need to be seen as reliable and consistent throughout the system, and the boards should be able to continue to provide syllabuses leading to examinations which are relevant to, and at standards appropriate to, the needs of employment and of further stages of education. At the same time, a new administrative structure must afford sufficient flexibility to cater for the needs of individual schools.


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Possibilities considered by the Committee

61. A number of administrative structures could theoretically be devised which would meet these requirements to a greater or lesser extent. We were aware of suggestions that a single national examinations board, perhaps operating through a regional sub-structure, might be established, and that it would be well placed to ensure that certificates would be accepted nationally. Although we attach importance to central co-ordination of the work of the boards, we decided not to recommend such a fundamental change since it would involve disrupting valuable links between the boards and local education authorities and universities; and because we considered it undesirable for a single organisation to have a monopoly of 16+ examining, which would deny any choice of board to schools and might inhibit the discussion and introduction of desirable changes in the curriculum.

62. At the other extreme we considered whether some or all the existing boards could independently offer the full range of examinations under a common system either in free competition with each other, or restricted to particular regions, or through some intermediate arrangement. We decided that none of these possibilities, although involving little administrative change, represented a real option. As explained in Chapter II the experience of both O Level and CSE examining is needed as the basis for developing new examinations under a common system. Nor would these arrangements utilise efficiently the resources of the present boards. Separate regions would guarantee each board a regular supply of work, but would destroy, where it exists, the freedom of schools to choose a board which suits their requirements and would pose severe difficulties in practice in reaching agreement on the division of the country into small areas. Allowing the boards to compete freely would mean that none could be sure in advance of its share of available work and would make an unreliable basis for the examination system.

63. We also gave careful consideration to the proposals of the CSE and GCE boards themselves, as set out in the report of the Schools Council Working Party on Administration. The CSE boards had proposed a two-tier structure, with 14 or so regional boards and 6 provincial boards, the former responsible for 16+ examinations and the latter for sixth form examinations. The GCE boards considered it unrealistic to attempt radical changes in the short term and thought a new structure should be achieved generally through collaboration between groups of GCE and CSE boards. Although most GCE boards believed freedom of choice of board to be essential some expected in the longer term a move towards a regionally based system. We found the GCE boards' proposals too imprecise to afford the Secretary of State the degree of assurance needed to commit the education service to a common system. They leave unanswered major questions about forward planning, cost, utilisation of the resources of the CSE boards and the future number of boards. The CSE boards' proposals, although more precise, appeared to imply that most of the present GCE boards would cease to be responsible for 16+ examining. This too we found unacceptable because of our view that the development of new examinations needs to be undertaken jointly on the basis of both O Level and CSE


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experience. These proposals also appeared likely to increase the problems involved in maintaining national comparability and they allowed virtually no scope for schools to choose between boards.

64. We concluded that no 'perfect' solution existed, taking that to involve the satisfaction of requirements we considered essential together with all those features of the existing dual system to which boards, or schools, may be strongly attached. We therefore had to look for a solution which, while not coinciding exactly with what some schools or either group of existing boards would like to see, could be recognised by all. as a workable approach consistent with the essential requirements of a common system. We turned to the most obvious alternative to the possibilities already discussed - the early establishment of a well defined pattern of co-operation between the boards. We were encouraged in this by indications in the boards' own proposals that they too saw co-operation, albeit in very different forms, as a necessary feature of a new administrative structure.

Co-operation between boards

65. This could in theory take a number of different forms, but we discarded most as impracticable. General co-operation amongst all boards under central guidance would lead in effect to the model which we have already rejected - a single national board, with regional offices. Cooperation between GCE boards only or between CSE boards only would have little point since the combination of experience in dealing with candidates at higher and lower levels of ability necessary under a common system would not be obtained. Cooperation between CSE and GCE boards on a one to one basis has to be ruled out because of the disparity in their numbers. This leaves the possibility of co-operation on the basis of groups of boards embracing at least one each of the present GCE and CSE boards (such groups would naturally tend to comprise more CSE than GCE boards). There might well be some reduction in the number of boards by amalgamation or during the formation and development of groups. We expect that the identification of an individual board with one or other aspect of the dual system would tend in time to disappear.

66. There is, however, a danger that if the certificates were awarded individually under a common system by the former GCE and CSE boards, these would not be seen, at least at the outset, as comparable either within the group or nationally. We consider therefore that certificates must be issued in the name of the group and not in the name of an individual board; this means that the group would have to accept responsibility for certificates and gradings. The procedure would have important implications for the structure of a group and the relationships between the individual boards concerned. A group would require some central machinery to enable the boards jointly to take responsibility for the group's certificates and grades, both during the period of preparation for a common system and after its introduction. It should be competent, when necessary, to secure agreement about procedures to be used for determining syllabuses and methods of assessment by constituent boards.

67. In our view groups of boards should be territorially based. We see three reasons for this. Examining within a defined region is an essential aspect of the present CSE boards' work and constitutions; a territorial basis should go far


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to ensure a balanced distribution of examination work among the groups; and it would facilitate co-operation between schools and local education authorities in the work of the examining boards. The number of groups to emerge if the Secretary of State accepts our recommendations would depend on subsequent negotiations. Bearing in mind the number of GCE boards and the links that exist between some of them, and the special position of Wales (where the WJEC would provide the natural examining authority in a common system), it seems unlikely that more than four groups would be established in England. The areas to be covered by groups in England would require consideration after a decision by the Secretary of State, but it would be necessary for them to coincide with local education authority boundaries and to take account of the geographical distribution of business of the boards concerned.

Distribution of work within examining groups

68. It would not be practicable to devise a detailed internal group structure in advance of agreement between boards on the formation of particular groups, and we accepted that such agreement could not be expected until after our report had been made and after it was known whether the Secretary of State favoured the introduction of a common system. Nor would it in any case have been right to seek to prescribe a uniform model in all respects because of the varying character of the present boards and hence of future groups. There should be flexibility, to allow for local circumstances and for development as experience of operating in groups is gained. At the same time representatives of a number of boards put it to us that a lead on this matter would help them to consider their position in relation to a group and to facilitate the eventual formation of groups.

69. There is a wide range of possibilities. At one end of the range a group of boards could resemble a loose federation, the constituent boards continuing to deal direct with schools and conducting examinations separately subject only to those conditions agreed by the group as a whole as necessary in order that the certificates should bear the group's name. At the other, a group could have a fully integrated structure with a central capability for distributing work among its constituent parts.

70. One important consideration is the fact that in some less commonly taken subjects it would be superfluous and uneconomic for each constituent board to offer board-based examinations; one board could make the necessary provision for the whole group. (In some minority subjects, and for curriculum development project examinations as now, one board or group might provide an examination nationally, in agreement with a central co-ordinating body, the examination being taken as now through the home board or group.) Even for board-based examinations in the main subjects, where the present numbers of candidates may well be sufficient for each board in a group to continue on an economic basis to provide examinations in these subjects, it may be considered unnecessary to have as many different board-based syllabuses in a group as there are boards in the group. The work of our Educational Study Group suggests that much work will be involved in developing new syllabuses and assessment procedures, and groups may need to concentrate their efforts on joint preparation of a sufficient number of syllabuses and avoid unnecessary duplica-


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tion of effort. This suggests that groups might find advantages in some measure of internal unification, perhaps including the issue of a single handbook of regulations and board-based syllabuses.

71. The way in which a group decides to work would have important consequences for its relationship with the schools, both in terms of administration and of syllabus choice. It seems an obvious convenience for each school to have one main point of contact with the group for such matters as making examination entries and the issue of certificates. This could offer scope for administrative economies and would enable the group to manage its affairs so that its resources were efficiently utilised, especially if a single office were established by the group for these purposes: and a solution of this kind would appear suitable for a group with a unified rather than a federal structure. But there are other possibilities. The examining group area could be sub-divided into smaller areas, for example, each of which would be allocated for this purpose to one of the boards comprising the examining group; or each examination group area could be sub-divided into areas related to existing board areas; or each school might be asked to choose whichever 'office' it preferred to deal with from among the offices of the boards in its group.

72. When considering how best to organise internal working arrangements, examining groups will also have to take into account their responsibilities in relation to schools wishing to develop school-based examinations. Whether or not a group chooses to develop an integrated structure overall there would obviously be advantages if such schools could be associated with a board office reasonably nearby. In some cases the existing offices incorporated into a group might provide suitably distributed accommodation; in others there could be a need for a group to make new arrangements. This local provision would perhaps be the more important where several neighbouring schools wished to co-operate in developing school-based syllabuses and assessment procedures.

Structure of examining groups

73. A group dealing with schools on administrative matters through a single central office and, as a group, offering board-based examinations to schools, would naturally require stronger machinery at the centre than a group with constituent boards dealing separately with schools. A group would in any case need a central council and committees to discuss or determine educational, administrative and financial matters. The issue of certificates by the group would require at the least a forum in which agreement could be reached on matters affecting syllabuses and assessment procedures. The resolution of issues of this kind would be assisted by guidance and criteria issued by a central co-ordinating body, but decisions should be reached in the group rather than imposed from outside.

74. Just as we have not sought to prescribe a single method of functioning, we did not seek to work out in detail a model for the structure of a group or for the composition of its committees. These could vary according to local needs. Certain principles should apply, however, to a senior body of a group and to its main committees. The senior body would be crucial to preparation


[page 24]

for the introduction of a common system in its area. It would have a wide range of responsibilities and a corresponding need for representation from a number of interests. Public confidence in the new system would largely depend both on the success of its work and on its being seen as a body with an appropriate balance of representation. We do not believe that control of the senior body by a single interest would promote public confidence in a common system of examining. Instead there should be representation of the appropriate interests without anyone of these having a majority voice. These interests are the teachers in the schools in the group's area (at least some of whose representatives should be chosen by and accountable to their colleagues); the universities, with which the GCE boards are linked, and which, with other higher and further education interests, have a general 'user' interest in the examinations; the local authorities, who meet the greater part of the cost of examining; and the other users, notably employment interests and parents. It should be open to the Secretary of State to nominate an assessor to a senior body in a group.

75. The senior body of a group would be responsible for major policy issues. Below that level, much as in the present boards, there would be a need for committees dealing with educational and administrative/financial matters. A committee concerned with the conduct of examinations by the constituent parts of a group should, in our view, contain a majority of serving teachers, together with suitable representation of other interests. A committee dealing with the administrative and financial affairs of a group should, on the other hand, contain strong local authority and university elements, reflecting their financial commitments to the group; once again other interests should also be represented.

76. Care would be needed to ensure that the overall capacity for research (into examining techniques and comparability of standards, for instance) is maintained in a new structure. At present, research of a broad nature is promoted by the Schools Council and should continue to be fostered centrally. At board level the present GCE boards have a larger research capacity than the CSE boards, all boards being free to decide individually whether to undertake research. The cost has to be recouped through fees which are fixed with an eye to the charges of other boards. There would in future be advantage in research being organised on a group basis rather than by individual constituent boards, so that all boards are involved in the work and its funding.

Choice of board

77. Schools must under the present system enter CSE candidates with their local CSE board, but can choose which GCE board or boards to use. This helps to explain the differences of philosophy between the two parts of the dual system. The absence of choice of board is, in the CSE view, compensated for by the fact that teachers elected from the schools in the area control the boards' educational policies and examinations; and by the freedom for schools to design internally their own syllabuses and assessment procedures under Mode III arrangements. But in the GCE view Mode III arrangements do not provide for sufficient choice. Teachers should be able to choose from a range of board-based syllabuses and examinations (Mode I) to suit the educational needs of their pupils and should not be obliged to rely on school-based arrangements if a


[page 25]

board's Mode I examinations do not meet their needs. Freedom of choice is also seen as desirable because it enables schools to choose the board whose administrative and other procedures they find most convenient.

78. An administrative structure based on territorial groups of boards, on the lines so far described, would depart from present practice unless it allowed schools to opt for groups in other parts of the country. At present all but two of the 8 GCE boards have centres (schools and colleges) entering candidates throughout most parts of the country. Although all have regional concentrations of centres only the WJEC has a clearly defined territory (Wales). But under a rigidly territorial system a school in the south of England, for example, which at present enters candidates with the JMB (whose offices are in Manchester and most of whose centres are in the north) could not continue to use that board which would be a natural component of a group in the north of England.

79. We have therefore given very careful consideration to the case for incorporating, in an essentially territorial system, provision for schools to enter candidates other than with their local group. We noted first of all that the Schools Council had recommended that there should be a choice of board and we tested each of the main arguments which are put forward in favour of choice of board. It is clear that many teachers see such choice as necessary because of the opportunity it offers to select, from a range of board-based examinations and a variety of administrative practices, those which best suit their pupils and schools. We recognise the strength with which this point of view is held, although we believe that groups of boards could provide a wider range of board-based examinations in the commonly taken subjects than most individual boards at present. The present arrangements for taking examinations linked to curriculum development projects or in minority subjects from elsewhere through the 'home' board or group could of course continue.

80. We also believe that the effect of establishing any new administrative structure should be seen in perspective. The period leading up to the introduction of a common system should be long enough to make the necessary adjustments and schools will in any case be preparing to adopt new syllabuses under a common system whatever change of board may be involved. Moreover most schools already do at least part of their examining business with a local board. In practice we expect that most schools will want to participate in or keep in close touch with the development of the new examinations and this can most readily be done through the group in whose area schools are located and with which the teachers are most likely to be involved.

81. Having considered choice from the point of view of schools, we went on to examine the argument that the national coverage of most GCE boards, which derives from the freedom of schools to choose a board, has helped to ensure national comparability of grades awarded by those boards. The coverage of the GCE boards has, we understand, helped to make possible a number of studies of the comparability of grading standards. This has been important in a system operated by 22 separate boards, many of which examine only in restricted parts of the country. But there are two features of the new system described in this report which would balance any loss of national


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coverage. First, the proposed groups will cover very substantial areas of the country and will be in a position to devote more effort to monitoring standards than most of the present individual boards. Secondly, the changes which we foresee in central co-ordinating arrangements will enable more attention to be given than at present to national monitoring of examination grading standards.

82. We consider that as a practical matter a substantial majority of schools would, in a common system with an administrative structure of the kind described, wish to enter candidates with their territorial group; and that it is on the other hand unnecessary to design a new administrative structure so as to guarantee that some examinations attract candidates throughout the country. Freedom of choice of board might in practice be little exercised, but to deny it altogether or to prescribe controls before schools can see more clearly the nature of the new structure as it affects them would, we believe, be an obstacle to the smooth introduction of a new system. Our conclusion is that it would therefore be best not to restrict deliberately this kind of choice if a common system is introduced. Our views apply to both maintained and independent schools and similar considerations relate to further education colleges, which should be afforded the same opportunity for choice as schools. Schools would be able, as at present, to choose between GCE boards for A Levels; our proposed administrative structure would not prevent schools from changing A Level boards if they wished to do so in order to take 16+ and 18+ examinations from the same group.

83. We considered whether it would be right to suggest any conditions of an 'administrative' nature which might operate to limit choice, at any rate at the outset, but decided that these either conflicted with the principle or would have undesirable side effects. We rejected the suggestion that schools should be obliged to seek the consent of their territorial group before going to another; this appeared to offer insufficient guarantee to those schools wishing to make use of this freedom. Nor did we consider that, in the case of maintained schools or colleges, choice should be dependent on the local education authority, although we would expect that authorities would keep a close watch on any financial implications. Nor does it seem desirable to limit the time during which schools may continue to exercise choice since this might be seen as an effective barrier by schools, which would be reluctant to enter on temporary arrangements. Whatever detailed arrangements are eventually made, however; it may be useful to discover from the groups themselves the extent to which schools opt for other than their territorial groups. A regular fact-finding exercise could be designed for this purpose by the central co-ordinating body.

Co-ordination at national level

84. It will be clear that, in our view, much could and probably should be left for consideration and agreement within each group. At the same time, central co-ordinating arrangements at national level will be required both in the long term and during the transitional period which would follow a decision by the Secretary of State, if that were to be in favour of a common system. A first priority will be to settle the composition of groups of boards and reach a sufficient measure of agreement within each to enable planning and development work for a common system to get under way. If the Secretary of State accepts


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our recommendations about an administrative structure, the boards will need advice on the application of the principles which we have described and perhaps assistance in settling the composition of groups. These tasks should fall initially to the Department of Education and Science.

85. Once the composition and structure of groups has been settled in broad outline, the main effort will be devoted to the planning and co-ordination of the further development of syllabuses and assessment techniques discussed in Chapter II. A central co-ordinating body will be needed to watch over these preparations and to obtain the information necessary to check that any conditions set by the Secretary of State for the introduction of a common system are satisfied in relation, for example, to national comparability for the certificates awarded. In addition to criteria applying to examinations in specific subjects, a central co-ordinating body should also agree some broader criteria to establish and maintain confidence nationally in a common system. In particular it would be necessary to confirm that:

(i) syllabuses accepted by examining groups for certain subjects (such as mathematics) which are particularly important for subsequent stages of education or careers, have sufficient in common - and relevant to the needs of subsequent courses of education and employment - to enable the required grades to be accepted with confidence;

(ii) general criteria for assessment procedures were publicly available, whatever position they might occupy in the spectrum between entirely board-based and entirely school-based; and

(iii) at least one syllabus in all commonly taken subjects should be available in each group as a board-based syllabus and with board-based assessment.

86. We believe it would be necessary for the Department of Education and Science to endorse the certificates awarded under a common system, as at present. For this and other reasons the Secretary of State will have to allocate responsibility for central co-ordination. The Department of Education and Science will need initially to take the major share of this task and its close involvement will continue for some time, because the Secretary of State will no doubt wish to monitor progress towards meeting such of our recommendations about preparation for a common system as are accepted. Nevertheless, we consider that central co-ordination should not rest finally within central government. The task should be undertaken by the appropriate partners in the education service, with the Department, HM Inspectorate, local education authorities, teachers, universities and other education and lay interests all playing a part. It would not seem necessary to set up a new body for this purpose since the Schools Council already carries out relevant functions in relation to the examining system and could provide a forum for bringing together the partners. The Council might need to establish machinery for the purpose and the cost implications of this would need consideration. It seems to us desirable that those responsible for central co-ordination should make an annual report on their work to the Secretary of State and that this report should be published.


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CHAPTER IV: COST

Introduction

87. In addition to seeking a clearer picture of the likely administrative structure for a common system, the Secretary of State asked that further effort should be made to establish the transitional and recurrent costs which could arise. It would, theoretically, have been open to us to consider first questions of feasibility and administration and then seek to identify the cost implications of our findings on those matters; in practice the time available did not allow us to approach the issues one after the other and we therefore established the Cost Study Group to undertake its work in parallel with our own and that of the Educational Study Group, but with the help of broad guidance as discussion of educational and administrative matters developed.

88. The Cost Study Group's membership is set out in Appendix B. The Group's chairman and three of its members were also members of the Steering Committee; its remaining membership included, among others, a representative each from the GCE and CSE boards. We are especially indebted to these board representatives and to the staff of all the boards for the help which was given in assembling and analysing information about the cost of examining.

89. Information was not available about the expenditure of the boards under the present system on a consistent basis and there was therefore no ready starting point for consideration of the impact of a common system. Nor was it possible to foresee in detail the educational and administrative character of new arrangements and the Group made a range of differing assumptions about each possible aspect of a common system that would have a major effect on costs. On the other hand, their task was to some extent simplified by the fact that they were asked to consider only the effect of a common system on costs and were not called upon to assess other factors which will influence the cost of examining - most notably the number of pupils who will present themselves and the number of subjects for which they will enter. With this in mind the Group's study of examining costs was based on a comparison between the expenditure on the present dual system in a recent year and the expenditure that might have been incurred had a common system then been in operation.

Costs of operating a common system

90. The Group's task fell into three main parts. The first, and most substantial, was to consider the cost implications for the boards of running a common as opposed to a dual system - whether it would cost less, about the same, or more. The Schools Council had already undertaken a considerable amount of work on cost. This suggested that a common system, operated under one of the four administrative structures described in the report of their Working Party on Administration, would cost much the same as the present dual arrangements, The Council noted, however, that their calculations rested on a large


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number of assumptions and that these were therefore somewhat insecure. Since the Council had encountered particular problems in relying on the boards' income as a proxy for costs, the Group started by collecting detailed information from the boards about their present costs in a standardised form, so that the various cost elements could be isolated and considered separately to see how they might be affected by a common system. The information related to 1976, the most recent practicable year, and the costs are accordingly expressed in terms of 1976 prices in the Group's report.

91. The collection of the data was a considerable undertaking because the boards do not keep their accounts in a uniform manner; even their accounting years vary. The Group therefore arranged for a team of accountants to visit all 22 boards. The team was led by a member of the Department's professional staff and included two accountants with local authority experience, with the participation of an independent firm (Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co.) on a consultancy basis. The team helped the boards to complete a questionnaire, which categorised the expenditure in a number of different ways. Initially direct expenditure (on the actual process of examining) was separated from indirect expenditure (on the overheads of the boards). The direct expenditure, which might be expected to vary most with the introduction of a common system, was then broken down (i) between the elements of expenditure on examining such as salaries and wages, computer costs, payments to and expenses of examiners and teachers, printing and stationery, postage, etc.; and (ii) between the main activities involved in examining, ie devising syllabuses, conducting the examinations, marking, grading and issuing results.

92. The pattern of board expenditure which emerged is summarised in the table below, which is reproduced from the Group's report. This excludes GCE board expenditure on examinations other than O Levels, although the apportionment of GCE boards' indirect costs between O Level and other activities is a notional one, based on the ratio between direct O Level and other costs:

1976

Expenditure
(£000)
Cost per subject entry
(pence)
CSEGCETotalCSEGCEAv.
Payments to examiners1,4962,3913,887578069
Expenses to examiners361552913141816
Payments to teachers4987056819210
Expenses to teachers153-1536-3
Sub-total2,5083,0135,5219610098
Printing, stationery
and materials
7601,1221,882293734
Carriage and postage105206311476
Salaries and wages1,9061,8203,726736166
Computer286341627111111
Other46121767818712
Premises401331732161113
Total6,4277,05013,477247234240
Subject entries
(thousands)
2,6053,0105,61546%54%100%


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93. The Group then reviewed the impact that a common system would have had on the various cost elements had it been in operation in 1976, the year concerned. They described the effects that would have been felt irrespective of the precise administrative and educational character of a new system. The 'double entry' of candidates, for O Level and CSE in the same subject, would have disappeared and brought about some reduction in expenditure. On the other hand winter examinations, at present available only to O Level candidates, would probably have been taken by more candidates and have caused an increase.

94. In keeping with our own approach to administrative matters, the Group assumed that a new structure would have involved the boards in working together in groups, tending to result in standardisation of staff salaries and wages and of payments to examiners and teachers. In such situations there are normally pressures to standardise at higher rather than lower rates and the Group made estimates of the possible overall increases in expenditure that would have resulted. They then identified two possible educational features of a common system which might affect expenditure substantially, The probability that an element of school-based assessment would form part of more examinations in a common system than at present would have tended to increase the overall amount of payments by boards to teachers. Some reduction in board costs would, however, have followed the decrease in numbers of syllabuses which might be expected in an administrative structure based on groups.

95. In order to estimate more closely the likely effect of a common' system on numbers of syllabuses and on administrative expenditure by the boards and to test the usefulness of having assembled cost data in relation to examining activities and type of expenditure, the Group at our request looked more closely at three possible administrative models for a common system. These were:

(i) a structure involving groups of boards, each of the latter continuing to offer its own examinations in a full range of subjects, the Group having some central coordinating machinery. It was assumed in this model (and in (ii)) that there would be five groups, one of which would cover Wales;

(ii) an integrated grouping of boards with stronger central coordination, central processing of candidate entries by the group and a measure of financial interdependence. It was assumed that there would be a considerable reduction in the total number of syllabuses developed for a common system;

(iii) a structure involving fewer boards than at present. It was assumed that the 15 largest boards would remain in being.

It must be emphasised that these models were not devised as a basis for our recommendations on an administrative structure. Indeed, we make no recommendations about some of the assumptions involved in the models, such as the number of groups and future number of boards. Although the first two models reflect in a general sense our own broad approach, based on groupings of boards, the main purpose of reviewing their cost was to test the soundness of the Group's approach and to provide a range of indications about the cost effect of possible changes,


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96. Not surprisingly, model (i) of itself had little impact on cost; the need for some central coordinating machinery would have been a small additional extra. Model (ii) seemed likely to involve more substantial expenditure on central machinery but with a counterbalancing saving on staff costs; the smaller number of syllabuses assumed to be on offer would have involved substantial savings in running costs. Model (iii) produced the largest notional reduction in expenditure but this finding should be treated with extreme care, since no account was taken of the geographical distribution of the 15 largest boards or of the cost implications of closing 7 boards. We found model (iii) useful in illustrating the Group's approach and in indicating the difficulties to be encountered in any attempt to assess the implications of a reduction in number of boards; but, for the reasons given in the preceding chapter, we do not put it forward as a possible form of administration for a common system.

97. The Group did not attempt to make precise estimates of the impact which these various possible features of a common system would have had on costs, had such a system been in operation in 1976. But in order to provide some indication of the cost of operating a common system they calculated the maximum and minimum changes of cost that would have been incurred on the basis of a series of different assumptions. The Group considered (and we agree) that the extreme figures are very unlikely to be realised, but decided to include them in their report in order to show the range within which the cost implications of a common system are likely to be found. The Group made estimates which took account of the various factors summarised in paragraphs 93 and 94 above and then went on to estimate the additional effect of adopting each of the models described in paragraph 95. They took the view that the effect on annual costs, if a common system had been running in 1976 on the basis of model (ii), would have been to produce a change somewhere in the range between a saving of £0.5 million and an addition of £3.5 million.

98. It is essential to recognise that the minimum and maximum figures quoted rest respectively on a combination of all the most and least 'favourable' cost assumptions. By far the largest contribution to the difference between the minimum and maximum arises in respect of payments to teachers and examiners: the maximum figure assumes all such payments will be levelled up to the highest rates now paid. We considered this element with special care because of its size. The highest rates at present are paid by two CSE boards with distinctive styles of examining. It is unreal to assume that their styles would become general throughout the system and that their costs should be taken as a norm for a common system. In our view therefore the establishment of rates below these higher rates is very probable, and this would of course reduce the maximum additional costs given above.

'Hidden' costs

99. The second aspect of the Group's work was concerned with costs not met by the boards, the so called 'hidden' costs of examining and some relatively minor overt costs such as costs of materials met by schools for some practical examinations. The 'hidden' costs are not costs in an accounting sense since they do not appear in the accounts of boards or local education


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authorities. They arise mainly in schools and the largest single element is the 'cost' of that teacher time which is not paid for by a board, or for which the board's payment does not reflect the economic cost. Typical examples would be time spent at board subject panel meetings or in preparation of school-based syllabuses. It is clear from the Group's report that this time is substantial. On the other hand, account needs to be taken of the fact that a common system would spare teachers the need to enter pupils for different examining systems as at present.

100. In order to help the Group form some idea of the significance of 'hidden' costs, the team of accountants and members of HM Inspectorate paid visits to 23 schools of varying types in all the CSE board regions. They distributed standard questionnaires which were completed by all the heads and 290 other teachers. The findings from this exercise have no statistical validity, but lend some support to the view that Mode III examinations place a higher demand on teachers' time than others. Visits were also made to 20 local education authorities and, while it is clear that 'hidden' costs are incurred by them - for example through the involvement of officers with the work of the boards - it was not possible to make an estimate of their amount.

Changeover costs

101. The Group's final task was to consider the once and for all cost of changing over to a common system. Their report dealt with this under three headings. The first concerned the net additional cost of developing new syllabuses for a common system, that is to say the expenditure over and above that ordinarily incurred by the boards on syllabus revision and development from year to year. In making their estimate (again in terms of 1976 prices) the Group took into account a range of numbers of new syllabuses likely to be required, the differing complexity of syllabuses by subject and the numbers of syllabuses presently offered by the boards. The most important factor in determining the likely overall cost of developing new syllabuses for a common system was their number; as a basis for calculation it was assumed that administrative model (i) would involve 1,200 new syllabuses; model (ii) 800; and model (iii) 600. After study of reported present board costs the Group took £3,500 as the average cost of developing a new Mode I syllabus; the cost of a Mode III syllabus appeared to be much smaller, indeed negligible in terms of board costs although clearly more substantial in terms of 'hidden' costs.

102. The range of estimated net additional costs for new syllabus development was wide. At one extreme, if the relatively small number of new syllabuses assumed for model (iii) was developed over a 5 year period, the extra cost would be minimal. The highest estimate which the Group saw as well founded, at least in theory, was £0.5 million (at 1976 prices) per annum, relating to the development of all the new syllabuses required under model (ii) over a period of 3 years. In practice it seems to us improbable that so large a number of new syllabuses could be developed in 3 years and we doubt whether it would be thought necessary to attempt to do this. As suggested in Chapter II, priority will need to be given to examinations for certain main subjects, while others, such as those attracting candidates from a limited range of ability, could be


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developed subsequently. In our view the additional cost of devising new syllabuses is likely to be substantially less than the maximum figure quoted above would indicate.

103. The Group made no estimates in relation to the other features of a changeover seen as having possible cost implications, but noted them as matters requiring attention in future. They concern staffing. Models (ii) and (iii) seemed to the Group likely to involve in the long run some reduction in the number of permanent staff in the boards, not because of changes in the nature of examining under a common system but because of grouping or reduction in the number of boards. In the short term, during the period of preparation for the introduction of a common system, the boards appear likely to need all their experienced permanent staff to prepare the new syllabuses and examinations. Thereafter (as will be seen from Chapter V we are here looking to the mid 1980s and beyond) the demands of 16+ examining on senior board staff might be expected to decline with corresponding savings in expenditure by the boards on salaries. On this time scale it should be possible to avoid the need for a substantial number of redundancies by taking advantage of natural wastage. The coming decline in the size of the age groups from which candidates are drawn, which will continue to fall from a peak in about 1980 until at least the mid 1990s, is likely in any case to have an effect in due course on staffing levels. However, we believe it right to call attention to the possibility that a small number of senior permanent staff might eventually become redundant as a result of introducing a common system administered by groups of boards. These are people whose experience will be needed in preparing for a common system, and who by the time of its introduction may be at an age where transfer to other employment would be difficult. The position of such staff will need sympathetic consideration by the boards concerned. We recommend that they give this matter early consideration, perhaps jointly, once the future administrative structure for a common system has been settled in outline.

104. Finally, the Group drew attention to the extra pressure on teachers in helping to devise a large number of new syllabuses over a relatively short period, to the possibility that new syllabuses will lead to pressure for increased expenditure on new textbooks and other teaching materials, and to the need for in-service training programmes to take account of the change to a new system.

Our approach to the Group's report

105. The possible increases in cost discussed in the Group's report are very small in terms of overall expenditure on schools. But they should also be seen in relation to the cost of examining. The boards' expenditure on all activities, including A Levels and overseas examining, amounted to about £21 million in 1976 (the year to which the Group's report related), the CSE boards accounting for £6.5 million and the GCE boards for £14.5 million. On the basis of the assumption described in paragraph 92, the boards' expenditure on O Levels and CSE only was £13.5 million (CSE £6.4 million, GCE £7.1 million).

106. It was not practicable for the Group to attribute precise costs to the operation of a common system or to the changeover from the present dual arrangements. This reflected our aim which was not to prescribe a detailed


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pattern of examining and administrative structure for a common system which could, at least in theory, have been costed) but rather to reach general conclusions and make broad recommendations. Despite limitations which we have thought it right to stress, the Group's findings provide helpful reassurance in certain respects. Taking account of all the factors considered, and using model (ii) as a basis for estimate, the Group found at one extreme that a common system could have cost about £500,000 less than the dual system to operate in 1976; and that, at the other extreme, it could have cost £3.5 million more (both figures at 1976 prices). As the Group explained, the maximum and minimum estimates did not in themselves represent likely outcomes; the actual cost changes would have been likely to fall well within the extremes of the range. It would be a mistake, however, to take it that any extra cost would have fallen around the mid-point between the two figures; there are too many uncertainties still to be resolved to allow for a conclusion of this kind.

107. Although the Group necessarily made their estimates in relation to 1976 a common system may not be fully operational, as Chapter V explains, until the mid 1980s. It should not be assumed, whether or not a common system is introduced, that the various factors affecting costs will have remained constant in the meantime. The influence of falling secondary school rolls on candidate numbers, continued changes of emphasis as between the various modes of examining and pressures of an economic character on the rates of payments by boards to teachers and examiners, are amongst the major factors which are likely to have an effect. We believe that it is important to see the estimated range of possible additional costs of operating a common system, as quoted above, in this context. Even if a common system were not to be introduced it is likely that the cost of examining will change markedly over the next four years; if a common system is introduced some at least of the possible additional costs identified by the Group will be subsumed in the effect of other changes which are taking place.

108. In addition to having narrowed down the range of uncertainty that existed previously about the cost implications of a common system, we believe that the Group's work will be useful in a number of ways following a decision by the Secretary of State, if that is in favour of a common system. The information they have collected and the techniques employed in attributing board costs to the various activities that make up examining will enable others to make more precise estimates of the costs of a common system as its character takes on clearer definition. We believe that this will be helpful, not only to the Secretary of State in reaching any later decisions about the new system, but to all those who will be concerned with the establishment and operation of groups of boards, particularly the local education authorities and universities with their special responsibilities for board expenditure. The Group's report should enable them to identify more clearly the cost implications of the decisions yet to be taken about the structure of groups and the conduct of the examinations under a common system and to take any steps that may be necessary to minimise additional costs. The information collected by the Group is summarised in their report and is freely available to the boards themselves.


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CHAPTER V: CONCLUSIONS

109. In this concluding chapter we consider the impact of introducing a common system upon the institutions directly affected - schools and examining boards - and outline the sequence of preparations which seem to us necessary. We also summarise our conclusions and recommendations.

General

110. The main burden of preparing for a common system will fall to the boards. If the Secretary of State decides in favour of a common system, it would be desirable for the Department of Education and Science to invite the boards to set about forming groups on the principles outlined in Chapter III. A number of boards are now considering their place in possible groupings and some are already discussing or have committed themselves to close relationships with other boards. Initiatives have been taken, partly in recognition of the decline in candidate numbers which is expected to persist until at least the mid 1990s, and partly no doubt in response to our own discussions.

111. It will be for the boards themselves to negotiate, as far as possible, the formation of the groups and their broad structure, with any necessary advice and assistance of the Department of Education and Science. In our view, however, it will be essential at an early stage for the Secretary of State to consider proposals for the name, composition and area of each group of boards and the general nature of their proposed structures, and to inform the boards in a proposed group whether she was satisfied and whether her Department would be able to endorse the certificates awarded by the group under a common system.

112. Once groups have been formed, it will be possible for the necessary further development of syllabuses and methods of assessment to begin. It will be necessary for this to be planned and undertaken on a joint basis by the GCE and CSE boards comprising a group, with the likely eventual responsibilities of the boards in mind. Alongside the educational preparations, the boards comprising a group will need to work out in detail the internal structure of their group and arrangements for the administration of their examinations. Certain basic points about each group will no doubt have to be settled at the outset before planning and development work begins, but a great many other matters will require attention in a period leading up to the introduction of a common system. We envisage that the task of central coordination will shift progressively from the Department once the Secretary of State is satisfied with the broad nature of the groups and that this task, as suggested in Chapter III, will best be undertaken by the Schools Council.

113. Our conclusions and recommendations to a great extent leave intact the main advantages which the Schools Council saw in a common system.


[page 36]

Pupils and parents should be spared much of the anxiety and misunderstanding that is felt to characterise the dual system and schools should be relieved of some of the administrative burdens associated with examining. A school would be free to choose between the examinations offered by the examining group in whose territory it is situated and those offered by other groups. In the latter case, however, the teachers in the school would not have the same opportunities for participation in the work of the boards concerned or in the development of new examinations. It seems to us likely that most schools would choose to take the examinations of their local group.

114. The introduction of a common system is likely to involve more teachers in responsibility for assessment of their pupils' performance, and wider reliance will need to be placed on a number of alternative examining techniques already introduced in O Level and CSE, such as course assessment and practical tests, in which the teacher is often involved, as well as on the more familiar written papers. A common system will continue to provide for school-based syllabuses and many teachers will want to maintain their involvement with syllabus development. In addition, teachers will be involved with preparing the examinations for a common system and all who teach examination candidates will have to familiarise themselves with the new syllabuses and assessment procedures before a common system is introduced.

115. Discussion about replacing O Level and CSE by a common system of examining at 16+ has been going on for many years and it seems to us desirable to end the uncertainty soon. If a common system is to be established, we think it may be helpful for our report to outline a sequence of the events which, as we see them, lead up to the introduction of a common system. This would provide, subject to decisions by the Secretary of State, a framework within which the Department, the boards and the central coordinating body could work and would offer the users an indication of when changes are likely to take place.

116. The Schools Council believed that a common system 'would be fully operational five years after a decision by the Secretary of State ...', although their report recognised that it 'would not be easy to keep to the proposed timetable' and that solutions were still needed to a number of outstanding problems, particularly on the administration of a common system. Our own view of timing takes account of certain new factors: the need to negotiate groupings of boards, the very substantial programme of further work called for in the report of the Educational Study Group, and the importance which we attach to agreement on criteria for the new examinations between the boards and the central coordinating body.

117. The necessary preparations must be thorough and we have no doubt that the Secretary of State will want to be assured, before a change is made, that the preparations have been undertaken successfully and that a common system can be established with confidence and without disruption. It will be especially important to avoid confusion on the part of candidates and users in the early stages of a common system. There is therefore a very strong case for making the change at the same time throughout England and Wales. If this is accepted, it is difficult to see how the system can be introduced until each


[page 37]

examining group has completed its preparations at least in all the main subjects. In the meantime some of the joint examinations now in being may well continue on the present basis (leading to the award of O Level or CSE certificates); this will be useful and will in any case be necessary where schools have entered into a commitment to these examinations.

118. It will be for the Secretary of State to decide whether to publish our report and for her to decide what steps should then be taken. If she decides in favour of a common system administered by the kind of examining groups we propose, there will need to be a substantial period following an announcement to that effect during which the boards negotiate on the formation of groups and their structure. It seems unlikely that this process could be completed until well into 1979 (although it would be possible to move more quickly in Wales).

119. Once formed the groups would provide a foundation for the further development work needed on syllabuses and assessment procedures. The Schools Council appear to have assumed that two years would suffice. The feasibility studies took about this time to design and further work can, of course, draw on the experience since gained. But the further work now required will be laying the foundations for a new system rather than for feasibility schemes for a small number of candidates. The preparatory work must accordingly be the more thorough, if the interests of the candidates in the early years of a common system are to be protected. Moreover the development work must now cover fully all the main subjects and remedy the various weaknesses identified in the joint examinations. Although some groups will be able to move more quickly than others, we regard two years as the minimum needed for these preparations and consider that it would be prudent to make allowance in some cases for the possibility of a third year being required. The timetable must take into account the need for involvement of the central coordinating body in agreeing criteria for syllabuses and assessment procedures.

120. Some teachers will, of course, have been involved in the design of new syllabuses. When the new syllabuses are ready, however, schools will need time to consider them and to decide which to use, and the majority of teachers who prepare candidates for examinations at 16+ will then require time to prepare for teaching in line with the new syllabuses. Once the schools are ready pupils would be able to embark on courses leading to examinations under a common system, to be taken two years later.

121. We consider that it would help to avoid delay if the Secretary of State were to set a definite target date at which the boards should aim. Bearing in mind the sequence and nature of events described above, we consider that the new syllabuses might be introduced by the autumn of 1983, leading to the first examinations under a common system in 1985. It would, of course, be for the Secretary of State to consider whether in certain circumstances the target date might have to be deferred.

122. We are aware that if the Secretary of State decides in favour of a common system, on the basis we have described, the changes and adjustments which will be required will present difficult problems for many of those involved, especially


[page 38]

the examining boards. But we are clear from the study we have made that the problems are not insoluble and that solutions can be found without damage to the educational interests of prospective examination candidates.

Summary

123. The remaining paragraphs of this chapter summarise our response to the questions posed by the Secretary of State about a common system of examining at 16+, and the main recommendations which we make about preparations for a common system if the Secretary of State decides that it should be introduced.

Educational matters

124. A common system is, in essence, a means of providing examinations for all the candidates for whom GCE O Level and CSE examinations are now intended and of awarding them certificates with the same title and with grades on a single scale. We consider such a system to be feasible in that examinations of the various kinds which a common system can encompass could enable all the candidates to be graded without the examinations adversely affecting their education.

125. After considering the report of our Educational Study Group, we judged that in a number of subjects feasibility depends - on present evidence - upon the use in various forms and in varying degrees of alternative examination papers and tests. These alternatives require candidates to make a choice before the examination and in certain cases require preparation for the examination to be undertaken by candidates in separate groups for at least a part of the course. In other subjects the evidence suggests that a common examination, in which all candidates take the same paper or tests, although possibly with differentiated questions, is feasible or may become so after more development I work has been done. We consider that although these various forms of examination would be needed the main potential advantages which the Schools Council saw in a common system could still be realised.

126. A common system must command confidence outside the schools and particularly the confidence of users of examination certificates, notably employers, institutions of higher and further education and professional bodies. We believe that confidence is likely to be secured if the new system is seen as maintaining at least the same standards and degree of national comparability as the present examinations, and if they serve equally well the purposes of attestation and qualification.

127. To ensure that further preparation for a common system is soundly, based and to ensure confidence, we recommend that:

(i) criteria should be agreed nationally for syllabuses and the examinations (covering common and alternative papers, the assessment and moderation techniques employed, and the use of subject titles);

(ii) provision should be made for both school-based and board-based examinations and the same criteria for syllabuses and assessment procedures should apply to both;


[page 39]

(iii) further development of syllabuses and examinations for a common system should take into account the evidence and judgement in our Educational Study Group's report and should be coordinated so as to ensure that new work builds on the best experience already gained;

(iv) arrangements for central coordination of 16+ examinations should be strengthened and a central body (probably the Schools Council) should be responsible for securing agreement on items (i) and (ii) above and for coordinating further preparations ((iii) above).

Structure of the examining system

128. Our task was to recommend an administrative structure for a common system which would rest on both the present families of boards. This was undertaken on the basis of four principles - the resources and staff of the present boards are essential to a new system; there should be a minimum of disruption in making administrative changes; a new structure should not disrupt A Level and other examining; and the structure should help to ensure that certificates have a national currency.

129. After considering several possibilities and taking into account the views of the boards, we concluded that a new structure should be based on cooperation between boards in groups. We recommend that:

(i) a group should comprise at least one each of the present GCE and CSE boards and that a group should be identified with a particular area of the country;

(ii) the examination certificates should be issued in the name of the group, not in the name of a constituent board;

(iii) the internal structure and distribution of work within a group should be largely a matter for the group itself to determine, although it would be necessary for a group to have a central council to take decisions on matters concerning the group as a whole (eg those arising from (ii) above) and for the structure to take account of the needs of schools wishing to develop their own school-based examinations;

(iv) appropriate interests should be represented on the senior body of a group, without any one of these having a majority voice. These interests are: the teachers (at least some of whose representatives should be chosen by and accountable to their colleagues); the universities; the local education authorities; and users (including employment and further education interests and parents);

(v) whilst in practice most schools and colleges are likely to take the examinations of the group in whose area they are situated, they should be free to choose examinations from another group;

(vi) when agreement in principle has been reached between boards about the formation of a group they should seek the Secretary of State's approval of the proposed group and its structure;

(vii) an officer of the Department of Education and Science should countersign, on the Secretary of State's behalf, the certificates issued under a common system as at present.


[page 40]

130. Although we considered that the boards themselves should come together to devise the detailed organisation of groups and arrangements for distribution of work in accordance with local needs, we found it necessary to discuss some aspects of these matters in order to satisfy ourselves that our recommendations were practicable. We therefore recorded our views where these seemed likely to be helpful. In particular we accepted that a group of boards might take a number of different forms ranging from a loose federation to a more integrated unit. Much would depend on whether each constituent board in a group offered syllabuses in all the main subjects. It appeared to us that it may not be necessary (or indeed practicable, given the large amount of preparatory work still to be done) for a group to have as many syllabuses in main subjects as there are boards in the group. This points towards a measure of internal unification of groups.

131. We were not constituted to conduct detailed negotiations with the boards and we recognised that, in any case, the formation of groups of boards cannot be accomplished unless and until the Secretary of State decides that a common system should be introduced. Nevertheless, we considered the various factors likely to determine the number of possible groups and believe that the Secretary of State will need an indication of this before reaching a decision. In England we consider it unlikely that more than four groups of boards could be formed on a sound basis. In Wales a single body (the WJEC) is already responsible for both O Level and CSE examining and it would provide the natural authority for the Principality.

Cost

132. We have examined the changes in cost that could be involved in operating a common system on the lines envisaged in this report, instead of the present dual system. We found that in 1976 the cost of the O Level and CSE examinations (on the basis of certain assumptions concerning the cost of A Levels) was about £13.5 million. Had a common system been in operation in that year it could have cost between £500,000 less and £3.5 million more per annum. Our view is that these extreme figures are very unlikely to be realised in the event and that the change in annual cost would fall well within this range. The estimates should also be seen in the context of likely changes in the cost of examining due to other factors which will operate whether or not a common system is introduced. The maximum once and for all cost of changing to a common system, mostly incurred by syllabus development additional to that ordinarily undertaken by the boards, could be about £0.5 million per annum for 3 years; in our view the development work will be spread over a longer period and the total net cost of the changeover will be substantially less than this annual maximum figure suggests.

Sequence and timing of events

133. We consider that it is important to end uncertainty about the future of 16+ examinations. If the Secretary of State decides in favour of a common system the necessary preparations will, however, take a considerable time if they are to be thorough and if a new system is to be introduced without disruption and simultaneously throughout the country. In our view the new syllabuses


[page 41]

might be introduced by 1983, leading to the award of the new certificates in 1985. We recommend that, when groups of boards have been formed, the Secretary of State should set a target date for the establishment of a common system and that the new system should be introduced at the same time throughout England and Wales.






[page 42]

APPENDIX A

MEMBERSHIP OF THE EDUCATIONAL STUDY GROUP

CHAIRMAN

*Mr JA Hudson CBDepartment of Education and Science

MEMBERS

*Miss SJ Browne CBHM Inspectorate
*Mrs Lorna Denton JPParent Member of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations National Executive; Secretary, Derbyshire Federation of Parent Teacher Associations
*Mr AH Jennings CBEHeadmaster, Ecclesfield Comprehensive School, Sheffield
Mr RD NixonDirector of Education, Walsall
Dr DL Nuttall JPSecretary, Middlesex Regional Examining Board
Mr RD PriceCounty Education Officer, Dorset County Council
Mr IM RichardsonHeadmaster, Bancroft's School, Woodford Green; Chairman, Examinations Committee, University of London, University Entrance and School Examinations Council
*Mr JE WilliamsHeadmaster, Prestatyn High School, Clwyd, Wales
*Miss Sheila D Wood CBEHon. Secretary, Joint Executive Committee of the Associations of Head Masters, Head Mistresses, Assistant Masters and Assistant Mistresses (the Joint Four)

SECRETARIAT

Mr BC Arthur HMI
Mr BL Baish(until 8 March 1978)
Mr DV Stafford(from 8 March 1978)

Appointments shown are those held by members at the time of their appointment to the Group.

*Denotes also member of the Steering Committee.


[page 43]

APPENDIX A

MEMBERSHIP OF THE COST STUDY GROUP

CHAIRMAN

*Dr Barbara E Marsh JPChairman, Shropshire Education Committee

MEMBERS

Mr BC ArthurHM Inspectorate
Mr DH BoardSecretary, Metropolitan Regional Examinations Board
*Mr RH BirdDepartment of Education and Science (to 5 September 1977)
*Mr Ron CockingHeadmaster, Colmers Farm Junior School, Birmingham
*Mr W Cooke OBEHeadmaster, Highfield Comprehensive School, Gateshead (died 17 March 1978)
Mr VJ DelanyDirector of Financial Services, Department of Education and Science
*Mr PH Halsey MVODepartment of Education and Science (from 5 September 1977)
Mr S Hughesformerly Headmaster, Burnage High School for Boys, Manchester (from 23 September 1977)
Mr J MorrisDeputy Education Officer, Essex
Mr G W NethersellAssistant Treasurer (Education), Coventry
Dr F Wild, SecretaryCambridge University Local Examinations Syndicate

CONSULTANT

Mr J FieldenPeat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co.

SECRETARIAT

Mr BL Baish(until 8 March 1978)
Mr DV Stafford(from 8 March 1978)

Appointments shown are those held by members at the time of their appointment to the Group.

*Denotes also member of the Steering Committee.


[page 44]

APPENDIX C

1976 GCE O LEVEL AND CSE EXAMINATION ENTRIES (ENGLAND AND WALES)

BoardLocationSubject entries
(all modes)
CSE(summer only)
Associated LancashireManchester79,349
East AnglianColchester281,265
East MidlandsNottingham185,267
MetropolitanLondon SW18139,702
MiddlesexWembley94,989
NorthNewcastle218,060
North WestManchester295,549
SouthernSouthampton237,539
South-eastTunbridge Wells175,166
South-westernBristol205,305
Welsh Joint Education CommitteeCardiff121,426
West MidlandsBirmingham299,381
West Yorkshire & LindseySheffield174,879
YorkshireHarrogate96,658
TOTAL CSE2,604,535
GCE(summer and
winter)
Associated Examining BoardAldershot694,706
Joint Matriculation BoardManchester651,480
Oxford and CambridgeOxford & Cambridge213,000
OxfordOxford388,582
SouthernBristol35,533
CambridgeCambridge354,667
LondonLondon WC1507,749
Welsh Joint Education CommitteeCardiff164,750
TOTAL GCE3,010,467
TOTAL CSE AND GCE5,615,002

*Drawn from data provided by Examining boards for the Cost Study Group.


[page 45]

APPENDIX D

SCHOOLS COUNCIL: DECISIONS OF GOVERNING COUNCIL ON A COMMON SYSTEM OF EXAMINING AT 16+ (8 JULY, 1976)

1. Governing Council decided that the Secretary of State be asked to establish a Common System of Examining at an early date to replace the existing Certificate of Secondary Education and the Ordinary Level Examinations of the General Certificate of Education, and that the features of the new system be as set out below.

2. Governing Council decided that:

(i) the certificate of the common system of examining should be entitled the Certificate of Education;

(ii) the common system of examining should be designed for the same range of ability of candidates, subject by subject, as that for which GCE O Level and CSE examinations are currently designed (the top 60 per cent of the full ability range in a given subject);

(iii) winter examinations should be held under a common system, in addition to examinations in the summer period, recognising that practical difficulties might limit the availability of examinations in some subjects.

3. Governing Council decided that the common system of examining:
(i) be a single-subject system;

(ii) be separately certificated;

(iii) be open to candidates from schools, colleges of further education and other institutions as well as private candidates;

(iv) have no upper or lower age limit on entries.

4. Governing Council decided that:
(i) examinations under Modes I, II and III should be available under the common system, as well as mixed mode examinations, and to ensure reasonable comparability, criteria should be established for the acceptance, validation and moderation of syllabuses and schemes of assessment;

(ii) if, under Mode I, there is a component of the system, which is normally assessed by the candidate's own teacher, either arrangements should be made whereby this component may be assessed externally, or an alternative paper to this component, externally marked and carrying the same weighting in the final assessment should be available, or an alternative system consisting wholly of external assessments should be offered;


[page 46]

(iii) the results of the common system of examining should be expressed in terms of seven grades which would be shown on the certificates, together with an unclassified category which would not be so recorded;

(iv) the grades should in the introductory period of the new system be linked to the present GCE O Level and CSE grades in the following manner:

The top three grades should be equivalent to the GCE O Level Grades A, B and C respectively.

Similarly, the other four grades to be equivalent to the present CSE Grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively.

Candidates who were unclassified would be those whose work did not merit the award of a certificate, as in the CSE unclassified category.

(v) the grades should be numbered 1 - 7, with the lower numbers representing the higher grades of attainment;

(vi) although these grades are linked to present GCE O Level and CSE grades, grade descriptions which will have to stand in their own right should in due course be developed; in drawing up these new grade descriptions it is intended that present standards should be at least maintained.

5. Governing Council:
(i) recognised the importance of securing a viable and genegenrally acceptable utilisation of the facilities and resources of the boards at present offering CSE and O Level examinations to provide an effective and economic administrative structure for the common system of examining;

(ii) recommended that such an administrative structure:

(a) be teacher controlled;
(b) be regionally based;
(c) shall allow a choice of boards;
(d) be coordinated by the Schools Council.
(iii) wished to assure the Secretary of State that the Schools Council would, if requested, take steps to reach an agreement between the interested parties on an administrative structure once a decision on the acceptability of the common system had been taken;

(iv) recognised that it is essential that further development work in both curriculum and assessment techniques be carried out before the introduction of syllabuses for any new examination system the Secretary of State might authorise;

(v) recommended that it is prepared to encourage and support appropriate development work;

(vi) expected that a common system would be fully operational five years after a decision by the Secretary of State in favour of the proposals.


[title page]

SCHOOL EXAMINATIONS

Report of the Steering Committee established to consider
proposals for replacing the General Certificate of Education
Ordinary-level and Certificate of Secondary Education
examinations by a common system of examining

PART II

Chairman: Sir James Waddell CB

Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State
for Education and Science and the Secretary of
State for Wales by Command of Her Majesty
July 1978

LONDON
HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE

£3.15 net

Cmnd 7281-II


[page ii]





Note: The estimated cost of preparing this report (Parts I and II) is £195,909 of which £56,909 represents the estimated cost of printing and publication.

ISBN 0 10 172811 5


[page iii]


Part I of this report, which is published as a separate volume, contains the main report of the Steering Committee. This volume (Part II) contains the reports to that Committee of its sub-groups (the Educational Study Group and the Cost Study Group).



[page v]

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Paragraphs    Page
PART II Report of the Educational Study Group
Report of the Cost Study Group
The Examining Boards of England and Wales (abbreviations used in the reports)xiii

REPORT OF THE EDUCATIONAL STUDY GROUP
Membershipxiv-xv
GLOSSARY OF TERMS2
INTRODUCTION1-127

CHAPTER 1: THE FEASIBILITY OF A COMMON SYSTEM OF EXAMINING
Definition of a Common System1310
Nature of the Evidence14-1510
Our Approach to the Task16-1811
The Structure of a Common System19-2011
Common Examination and Choice of Paper21-2412
Feasibility2513
Other Matters26-2814

CHAPTER 2: ENGLISH (LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE)
Introduction29-3016
The Evidence3116
The Ability Range32-3316
English language17-21
The Syllabus and Objectives34-3617
The Syllabus and the Examination37-4118
The Examination and the Ability Range42-4519
Marking and Grading46-4720
Extension4821
Conclusion49-5021
English Literature51-5721-23
Conclusion5823

CHAPTER 3: MATHEMATICS
Introduction59-6024
The Evidence6124
The Ability Range6225
The Syllabus and Objectives63-6925
The Syllabus, the Examination and the Ability Range70-8026
Marking and Grading81-8329
Conclusion8429


[page vi]

Paragraphs    Page
CHAPTER 4: SCIENCE
Introduction85-8630
The Evidence87-8830
The Ability Range8931
The Syllabus and Objectives90-9131
Biology9232
Chemistry9332
Physics9432
The Syllabus and the Examination95-9732
Marking and Grading9833
The Examination and the Ability Range99-10133
Conclusion102-10334

CHAPTER 5: HISTORY
Introduction104-10535
The Evidence10635
The Ability Range10736
The Syllabus and Objectives108-110136
The Syllabus and the Examination111-11237
The Examination and the Ability Range113-11637
Marking and Grading11738
Conclusion118-11938

CHAPTER 6: GEOGRAPHY
Introduction120-12140
The Evidence12240
The Ability Range12340
The Syllabus and Objectives124-12541
The Syllabus and the Examination126-12741
The Examination and the Ability Range128-12941
Marking and Grading13042
Conclusion131-13242

CHAPTER 7: MODERN LANGUAGES
Introduction133-13544
The Evidence13644
The Ability Range137-13845
The Syllabus and Objectives139-14145
The Syllabus and the Examination142-14546
The Examination and the Ability Range146-14747
Marking and Grading14847
Conclusion149-15147

CHAPTER 8: CLASSICS
Introduction152-15349
The Evidence15449
The Ability Range15550
The Syllabus and Objectives156-15750
The Syllabus and the Examination158-15950
The Examination and the Ability Range160-16351
Extension164-16652
Conclusion16752


[page vii]

Paragraphs    Page
CHAPTER 9: COMMERCE
Introduction168-16953
The Evidence17053
The Syllabus and Objectives17153
The Syllabus and the Examination172-17454
Conclusion17554

CHAPTER 10: SOCIAL SCIENCE
Introduction17655
The Evidence17755
The Syllabus and Objectives178-17955
The Syllabus and the Examination18056
The Examination and the Ability Range18156
Extension18256
Conclusion18356

CHAPTER 11: RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Introduction184-18557
The Evidence18657
The Ability Range18757
The Syllabus and Objectives18857
The Syllabus and the Examination18957
The Examination and the Ability Range190-19258
Conclusion19358

CHAPTER 12: CRAFT, DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY
Introduction194-19559
The Evidence19659
The Ability Range19759
The Syllabus and Objectives19859
The Examination and the Ability Range199-20160
Marking and Grading20260
Conclusion203-20460

CHAPTER 13: TECHNICAL DRAWING
Introduction20561
The Evidence20661
The Ability Range20761
The Syllabus and Objectives208-21061
The Examination and the Ability Range211-21262
Marking and Grading21362
Conclusion214-21562


[page viii]

Paragraphs    Page
CHAPTER 14: HOME ECONOMICS
Introduction21664
The Evidence21764
The Ability Range21864
The Syllabus and Objectives219-22064
The Examination and the Ability Range221-22264
Marking and Grading22365
Conclusion22465

CHAPTER 15: NEEDLECRAFT AND DRESS
Introduction22566
The Evidence22666
The Ability Range22766
The Syllabus and Objectives22866
The Examination and the Ability Range229-23166
Conclusion23267

CHAPTER 16: ART
Introduction233-23468
The Evidence23568
The Ability Range236-23968
The syllabus and examination240-24269
Marking and Grading24370
Conclusion24470

CHAPTER 17: MUSIC
Introduction24571
Evidence24671
The Ability Range24771
The Syllabus and Objectives24871
The Examination and the Ability Range249-25072
Extension25172
Conclusion25272

CHAPTER 18: FURTHER WORK
253-26673


[page ix]

APPENDICES

Page

Appendix A:

List of those consulted

77

Appendix B:

Questions formulated by the Joint Examinations Sub-Committee (JESC) of the Schools Council

78

Questions formulated by the Educational Study Group

79

Appendix C:

Summary of Statistics of Entries for GCE O Level, CSE and Joint Examinations, Summer 1976

81

Appendix D:

Summary of Information about the Joint Examinations

82
English83
Mathematics88
Science
    Biology93
    Chemistry98
    Physics100
History102
Geography104
Modern Languages
    French108
    German112
Classical subjects114
Commerce117
Social science118
Religious studies119
Craft, design and technology120
Technical drawing122
Home economics125
Needlecraft and dress126
Art127
Music129


[page x]

LIST OF TABLES

Page
Table 1:The consortia and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in English language and literature. 1973-197716
Table 2:The consortia and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in mathematics. 1972-197725
Table 3:The consortia and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in the sciences. 1973-197731
Table 4:The consortia and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in history. 1973-197735
Table 5:The consortia and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in geography. 1973-197740
Table 6:The consortia and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in modern languages. 1974-197744
Table 7:The consortia and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in classics. 1974-197749
Table 8:The consortium and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in commerce. 1974-197753
Table 9:The consortium and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in social science. 1975-197655
Table 10:The consortium and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in religious studies. 1975-197657
Table 11:The consortia and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in craft, design and technology. 1974-197759
Table 12:The consortia and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in technical drawing. 1973-197761
Table 13:The consortium and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in home economics. 1973-197764
Table 14:The consortium and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in needlecraft and dress. 1973-197766
Table 15:The consortia and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in art. 1973-197468
Table 16:The consortia and number of candidates involved in the joint examinations held in music. 1974-197771


[page xi]

Paragraphs      Page
REPORT OF THE COST STUDY GROUP
Membershipxvi-xvii

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1-8132

CHAPTER 2: COSTS IN 1976
I EXAMINATION BOARD COSTS135
The Expenditure Pattern17-19136
Total Board Expenditure20-21137
Total 16+ Expenditure22-26139
Activity Analysis27-29143
II 'HIDDEN' COSTS145
Summary of Teacher Deployment33-35146
The Involvement of Individual Teachers in Examining36-38146
Local Education Authorities39147
Personnel40-41147
Use of Premises42148
In-Service Training43148
School Direct Expenditures on Examinations44-45148
III SCHOOL-LEA OVERT COSTS149
LEA policies46-48149
Provision of Materials49-50149

CHAPTER 3: COSTING A COMMON SYSTEM
EXAMINATION BOARD COSTS51150
Changes Likely Irrespective of Administrative Organisation54-55151
Changes Likely as a Result of Changes in Administrative and Educational Arrangements56-65152
Examples of Possible Administrative Structures66-73155
Summary of Cost Changes74158
PREMISES COSTS75-76159
EXTERNAL CONSIDERATIONS82-84160

CHAPTER 4: CHANGEOVER COSTS
Syllabus Development85-94162
Board Staffing95-96164
Computer Costs97165
'Hidden' Costs98165
School and LEA Costs99-100165
ANNEXES
Annex A166
    Schedule I: Summary of Total Expenditure166
    Schedule II: Costs for non 16+ Examinations167
    Schedule III: 16+ Examination Costs168
    Schedule IV: Detailed Description of the Board's Procedures with Costs and Volumes of Activity (completed by examining boards)169


[page xii]

Page
Annex B
    8 tables of Board Costs and Subject Entries in 1976
170
Annex C
    2 Questionnaires Completed by Teachers in Schools Visited (with notes for guidance)
178

LIST OF TABLES

Page
Table 1:Total expenditure of the boards137
Table 2:Direct costs per subject entry for English CSE boards142
Table 3:Analysis of activity by type of expenditure143
Table 4:Analysis of expenditure by activities144
Table 5:The pattern of boards' expenditure on 16+ examinations and the levels of subject entries in England and Wales151
Table 6:Estimated effect of elimination of double entries and increase of winter entries on examining boards' expenditure152
Table 7:Expenditure of the WJEC and the 14 largest English boards, and of the remaining 6 examining boards (1976)157
Table 8:Suggested revised pattern of expenditure assuming all examining handled by 15 examining boards157
Table 9:Possible range of costs of running a common system - items common to all models158
Table 10:Possible range of costs of running a common system - all models158
Table 11:Estimated annual costs for developing syllabuses for a common system of examining over (a) 3 years and (b) 5 years164

DIAGRAMS

Histogram showing direct expenditure of the boards on 16+ examinations and of the GCE boards on all examinations138

Diagram A:

Total direct cost per subject entry for each board in relation to the size of its operation
140

Diagram B:

Total direct salaries cost per subject entry for each board in relation to the size of its operation
141


[page xiii]

THE EXAMINING BOARDS OF ENGLAND AND WALES

Abbreviations
used in this
report

GCE Boards
The Associated Examining BoardAEB
The University of Cambridge Local Examinations SyndicateCAMBRIDGE
The Joint Matriculation BoardJMB
The University of London, University Entrance and School Examinations CouncilLONDON
The Oxford Delegacy of Local ExaminationsOXFORD
The Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination BoardOXFORD & CAMBRIDGE
The Southern Universities Joint Board for School ExaminationsSUJB
The Welsh Joint Education CommitteeWJEC

CSE Boards
The Associated Lancashire Schools Examining BoardALSEB
The East Anglian Examinations BoardEAEB
The East Midland Regional Examinations BoardEMREB
The Metropolitan Regional Examinations BoardMREB
The Middlesex Regional Examining BoardMIDDLESEX
The North Regional Examinations BoardNREB
The North West Regional Examinations BoardNWREB
The Southern Regional Examinations BoardSREB
The South East Regional Examinations BoardSEREB
The South Western Examinations BoardSWEB
The Welsh Joint Education CommitteeWJEC
The West Midlands Examinations BoardWMEB
The West Yorkshire and Lindsey Regional Examining BoardTWYLREB
The Yorkshire Regional Examinations BoardYREB


[page xiv]

MEMBERSHIP OF THE EDUCATIONAL STUDY GROUP

CHAIRMAN

*Mr JA Hudson CB - Department of Education and Science

MEMBERS

*Miss SJ Browne CB - HM Inspectorate

*Mrs Lorna Denton JP - Parent Member of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations National Executive; Secretary, Derbyshire Federation of Parent Teacher Associations

*Mr AH Jennings CBE - Headmaster, Ecclesfield Comprehensive School, Sheffield

Mr RD Nixon - Director of Education, Walsall

Dr DL Nuttall JP - Secretary, Middlesex Regional Examining Board

Mr RD Price - County Education Officer, Dorset County Council

Mr IM Richardson - Headmaster, Bancroft's School, Woodford Green; Chairman, Examinations Committee, University of London, University Entrance and School Examinations Council

*Mr JE Williams - Headmaster, Prestatyn High School, Clwyd, Wales

*Miss Sheila D Wood CBE - Hon. Secretary, Joint Executive Committee of the Associations of Head Masters, Head Mistresses, Assistant Masters, and Assistant Mistresses (the Joint Four)


Appointments shown are those held by members at the time of their appointment to the Group.

*Denotes also member of the Steering Committee.


[page xv]

SECRETARIAT OF THE EDUCATIONAL STUDY GROUP

Mr BC Arthur HMI

Mr BL Baish (until 8 March 1978)

Mr DV Stafford (from 8 March 1978)


[page xvi]

MEMBERSHIP OF THE COST STUDY GROUP

CHAIRMAN

*Dr Barbara E Marsh JP - Chairman, Shropshire Education Committee

MEMBERS

Mr BC Arthur - HM Inspectorate

Mr DH Board - Secretary, Metropolitan Regional Examinations Board

*Mr RH Bird - Department of Education and Science (to 5 September 1977)

*Mr Ron Cocking - Headmaster, Colmers Farm Junior School, B.irmingham

*Mr W Cooke OBE - Headmaster, Highfield Comprehensive School, Gateshead (died 17M arch 1978)

Mr VJ Delany - Director of Financial Services, Department of Education and Science

*Mr PH Halsey MVO - Department of Education and Science (from 5 September 1977)

Mr S Hughes - formerly Headmaster, Burnage High School for Boys, Manchester (from 23 September 1977)

Mr J Morris - Deputy Education Officer, Essex Education Authority

Mr GW Nethersell - Assistant Treasurer (Education), Coventry

Dr F Wild - Secretary, Cambridge University Local Examinations Syndicate


Appointments shown are those held by members at the time of their appointment to the Group.

*Denotes also member of the Steering Committee.


[page xvii]

CONSULTANT

Mr J Feilden - Peat, Marwick and Mitchell & Co

SECRETARIAT

Mr BL Baish (until 8 March 1978)

Mr DV Stafford (from 8 March 1978)

Appointments shown are those held by members at the time of their appointment to the Group.


[page 1]


REPORT OF THE EDUCATIONAL STUDY GROUP




[page 2]

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Ability range

Describes ability ranges in the school population. Used in relation to:

(i) the whole school population, ie the whole ability range;

(ii) that part of the school population for which an examination is designed, ie the intended ability range;

(iii) that part of the school population from which examination candidates in a particular subject are normally drawn, ie the subject ability range.

Ability ranges are expressed in percentiles or percentages, from 0 to 100. Thus GCE O Level examinations are designed to cater primarily for candidates between the 100th and 80th percentiles (the top 20 per cent of the whole ability range) and CSE examinations primarily for the 80th to the 40th percentile (the next 40 per cent of the whole ability range).

The ability range for a particular subject may be more limited than that for the examination system as a whole. For example, O Level and CSE examinations in modern languages, physics and chemistry are known to attract candidates from an ability range which probably does not extend below the 60th percentile.

Able, average, less able

(NB Our definitions of these terms are for the purposes of this report only. We claim no other validity for them.)

When used in relation to candidates, these terms refer only to the subject ability range (see above). Thus in an examination subject attracting candidates between the 40th and 100th percentiles, 'able' would refer to some or all candidates within the 100th - 80th percentiles, 'average' within the 79th - 60th and 'less able' the 59th - 40th.

When used in other senses, eg in relation to the whole ability range or the intended ability range, the text makes this clear.

Agreement trial

A meeting held to ensure as far as possible that teachers within a school or group of schools apply the same criteria, and work to the same standard in their assessment of pupils. It may be concerned entirely with the standards of school-based examinations, or involve relating such examinations to board-based examinations in the same or a similar subject. In the latter the board's examiners in the subject concerned are often involved.

Aims and objectives

The aim of an educational activity is to achieve a certain, usually broadly stated, end. Objectives are the means by which the aim is achieved and the stages towards it. Thus, a teaching aim might be to produce a better understanding of the economic affairs of the country; one of the objectives towards this (which could be tested) might relate to knowledge and illustration of the law of supply


[page 3]

and demand. A standard specification of broad educational objectives offers six major ones: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation.

Assessment

Refers to all the procedures which lead to a candidate gaining a result in a public examination. These may be based on examinations set and marked by the board, they may be carried out by teachers in the candidate's school or there may be a combination of both board-based and school-based elements. Methods include: continuous assessment, whereby the pupil's work is assessed intermittently or periodically during his course; course work assessment, whereby examples of work done during the course are taken into account; oral assessment, which may involve a spoken language test, or a test designed to enable the candidate to communicate ideas and show understanding of a subject in speech; practical work assessment, which may involve the assessment of a piece of practical work, or may be a more continuous assessment over a period of the process of practical work. Only the first of these examples (continuous assessment) is necessarily school-based; other methods may be either school-based or board-based.

Bunching

Occurs when examination marks collect together within a narrow range and in consequence fail to discriminate adequately between the performance of all candidates.

Common examination

Where all candidates take the same, ie common paper(s) or other examination component(s). Within the paper(s) the candidate may be able to choose, eg between essay subjects, or between questions on different set books - all such questions carrying equal marks. Or the candidate may be required to choose between questions carrying different marks (see below: 'Differentiated questions', 'Incline of difficulty', 'Tariff questions').

A common examination is one form of a common system of examining (see below).

Common system of examining at 16+

A single system providing examinations designed for candidates in the same ability range as that for which the GCE O Level and CSE examinations together are currently designed. The examinations may consist either of common papers (or other examination components) or a combination of common and differentiated papers/components, but all grades must be awarded on a single scale and all certificates must bear a common title.


[page 4]

Comparability

Refers to the extent to which grades awarded by one examining board within a system (ie GCE or CSE) reflect the same standard as a similar grade in the same subject issued by another board in that system. It can also be used in relation to examination standards in the same subject in different years, and in different subjects in the same year.

Correlation

A measure of similarity between sets of marks given in the same examination.

It is expressed as a figure between +1.00 (indicating that good marks on one test are associated with good marks on the other) and -1.00 (indicating that good marks on one test are associated with poor marks on the other). A correlation of 0 would signify that the two sets of marks are completely unrelated.

Differentiated papers

Describes papers or other examination components designed to enable candidates in different parts of the intended ability range to be examined at various levels of difficulty, necessarily involving a choice between papers in advance of the examination and consequent differences in the manner of preparation of the candidate. The choice of papers may limit the grades a candidate could achieve; by choosing easier papers it might be possible to obtain only sufficient marks for a lower grade and the highest might be obtainable by choosing only the more difficult papers.

Differentiated questions

Describes questions within a paper which are designed to be at different levels of difficulty and thus attract different marks. (See also: 'Common examination', 'Incline of difficulty', 'Tariff questions', 'Structured questions'.)

Discrimination

The capacity of a test (whether individual questions, papers, or the examination as a whole) adequately to distinguish between the performances of all the candidates.

Incline of difficulty

Refers to a series of questions (or papers) which grow progressively more difficult, to enable candidates to go as far as they are able. (See also under 'Structured questions').

Mean

The arithmetical average of marks; ie the total of all candidates' marks divided by the number of candidates.


[page 5]

Moderation

A procedure or combination of procedures concerned with matching school-based assessment to the standards of the examining board. It may take different forms: scaling against an external paper; visits to a school by a moderator familiar with the standards of the board; and inter-school moderation whereby a group of schools meet to agree on standards.

Objective questions

Designed to yield one, and only one, acceptable answer. The questions may take one of several forms, the commonest being open-ended, true/false and multiple choice.

Percentile

This defines, at any point between 0 and 100, the level at which individuals perform in relation to their group. Thus someone at the 60th percentile has performed better than 60 per cent of his/her peers. Percentiles may be used in relation to a group of any size or of any kind. In this report, however, their use is restricted to the whole 16+ age group.

It should be recognised that distribution between points of the scale is not even. The 'distance' between the 50th and 55th percentiles, for example, is smaller than that between the 90th and 95th because of the tendency for more people to congregate around the middle of the distribution scale than at either extreme. Thus an individual might move up from the 50th to 55th percentile by getting a few extra marks; whereas moving from the 90th to 95th would require much higher attainment.

Reliability

The accuracy or consistency of an examination component which is regarded as reliable if it would yield similar results if repeated by the same candidates under the same conditions.

Skewed distribution

Used to denote the bunching of candidates towards one end of the ability range taking the examination, or of marks towards one end of the mark scale.

Standard deviation

In examining, a measure of the distribution of marks obtained by all pupils in an examination. Examination marks clustered round the mean will result in a small standard deviation; if they are well spaced the standard deviation will be larger.

Structured questions

These are questions set in the form of a number of sub-questions, all relating to the same topic, and often designed to lead from easy to more difficult items (see 'Incline of difficulty' above). More difficult parts of the questions normally carry more marks than the earlier ones.


[page 6]

Tariff questions

This term relates to a form of examination paper which allows choice of easier, or harder questions; each question or part-question is given a stated mark value. The only limitation is on the minimum number of questions required to obtain the maximum mark.

Validity

An examination is said to be valid if it measures what it is intended to measure, ie the specified content and balance of the syllabus.

Weighting

The influence of an individual component of an examination in determining the final mark.


[page 7]

INTRODUCTION

1. The Steering Committee brought this study group into being to make recommendations about the feasibility of a common system of examining at 16+. We have set about that task by reviewing:

(i) the reports of the feasibility studies (1) conducted by the consortia of examining boards;

(ii) information about joint examinations (1) which have developed out of the feasibility studies;

(iii) other information which, in our own view or that of boards or subject specialists, seemed likely to throw light on the issue.

2. The first of our meetings (there were 9 in all) was held in July 1977. The material available to us, therefore, included much which related to experience of the joint examinations up to and including the summer of 1977. To that extent, and to the extent that we were able to use other information not to hand when the Schools Council's submission to the Secretary of State was being prepared, we were somewhat better placed than the Schools Council in attempting to assess the value and impact of work subsequent to the original feasibility studies.

3. The number of documents before us was formidable, and reflected the considerable effort which the examination boards and teachers had put into the consideration and trial of a common system. Because we aimed to complete our work as early as possible in 1978, and because the documents were detailed and complex, the reading and analysis of this material presented practical difficulties. We therefore adopted a method of work which enabled us to cope with the documentation and which also allowed us to draw on the knowledge and experience of subject specialists.

4. The basis of our approach was the establishment of a reading/administration team drawn from HM Inspectorate and the staffs of the Schools Council and Department of Education and Science, extended temporarily for each subject by HMI subject specialists and members of the staff of the Schools Council. To this group we delegated two types of work:

(i) the preliminary study of each relevant document;

(ii) discussions with examination board consortia, teachers and representatives of local authority specialist advisers, subject associations and university interests (2).

Both of these activities were the subject of a succession of written and oral reports to us by the team. In this way we had access to the views of many experienced people and to a great deal of information, ranging from the consortia reports of the original feasibility studies to details of subsequent joint examinations, syllabuses, question papers, mark schemes and in some cases marked scripts, although in this latter respect we relied in very large measure on

(1) The 'feasibility studies' were sponsored by the Schools Council and mostly involved operational 16+ examinations jointly devised by consortia of CSE and GCE boards: some of the consortia continued subsequently to offer joint examinations. The term 'joint examinations' refers to the original feasibility studies and the subsequent joint examinations.

2 A list of those consulted is given in Appendix A.


[page 8]

the professional judgement of those who were familiar with the work of the pupils and with the scripts. These reports were often long, detailed and technically complex. In this report we have adapted them to make their content more accessible to the general reader.

5. Our study, and therefore also the work of the team, was arranged so that each main subject or group of subjects was considered separately. English language was the first to be considered and was followed by mathematics. These are basic subjects and it was essential to attempt to draw conclusions as early as possible about feasibility in their case. Having considered all the subject areas offered in the joint examinations we turned our attention to the general question of feasibility.

6. Our overall conclusions and recommendations are set out in chapter 1. Before we could arrive at these, however, and whilst we were working through the subject areas, we had to make a number of basic assumptions and decisions on issues relating to all subjects. Perhaps most important of all, we assumed that, as a matter of practicality, a recommendation and decision about a common system would have to be made before any new development work could be mounted. We also decided that, although our prime objective was to establish whether a common system was feasible, we would take note of and record those areas where there seemed need or scope for further consideration and investigation. In following that line we attempted to identify on the one hand essential work to be undertaken between the date of a decision and the date of the introduction of a new system; and, on the other, work which is desirable in itself but is not essential in the context of a common system. At the same time, and whenever possible, we drew on particularly good examples of operational joint examinations, or aspects of them, and, to a more limited extent, have raised a marker against those examinations or aspects which have not worked very well. We kept in touch with the Cost Study Group and indicated to them points which had implications for their work.

7. In formulating our views, subject by subject, we had no ready-made definition of a common system which we could use, and in fact we accepted that a full definition could be drawn up only in the later stages of our discussions. We found it necessary, therefore, to adopt a working definition. It took the form set out in the glossary of terms and is given in slightly fuller form in chapter 1.

8. To review the feasibility studies, we also needed a list of criteria or of questions to be answered. As a basis we used the seven questions framed by the Joint Examinations Sub-Committee (JESC) of the Schools Council, adjusting them in each case to take account of the distinctive features of the subject. The seven JESC questions and our own agreed list of questions are to be found in Appendix B. They sought firstly to test the reliability and validity of the joint examinations, that is, the characteristics we have come to expect of public examinations in general. Secondly, and of crucial importance for our investigation, we sought to establish whether the objectives, syllabuses and examinations were appropriate for the range of ability for which a common system would cater and in particular whether the examinations were able to discriminate adequately between candidates over this range.


[page 9]

9. Before making judgements on the second of these points we had to review the definition of the target group for a common system which we had inherited from the Schools Council's proposals. The feasibility studies and the existing joint examinations were designed for the ability range for which GCE and CSE examinations are together intended, that is the top 60 per cent of the whole ability range, subject by subject. This coincided with our own view of what the target group ought to be, although there is evidence that candidates are entering for O Level and CSE examinations from outside their intended ranges. In a few subjects large numbers have been entering CSE examinations from well below the 40th percentile, particularly since the raising of the school leaving age in 1974. Whilst we assumed that entry would continue to be open to those whose ability falls below the range for which the common system would be designed, we accepted the Schools Council's view that in general the needs of the candidates in the top 60 per cent of the range should be the test of the feasibility of a common system. Numbers of candidates taking the subjects common to GCE O Level, CSE and joint 16+ examinations are shown in the table at Appendix C.

10. We accepted also that whilst the examinations should be designed primarily with pupils in their fifth year of secondary education in mind, they should be available to younger and older candidates whether in schools, colleges of further education or entering privately, and that there should therefore be no upper or lower age limits on entries. The examination should of course be open, as at present, to candidates on a single subject basis with no requirements as to the number of subjects which may be taken. We recognise that examinations which at least in part rely on school-based assessment will need to include alternatives for the use of private candidates, overseas candidates, part-time day and evening students and those taking correspondence courses.

11. Examinations in certain subjects such as physics, chemistry, modern languages and classical subjects are in practice taken by candidates from a narrower band of ability than that for which a common system is to be designed. The chapters on individual subjects make clear where this is the case. We considered that if was unnecessary to demonstrate in those subjects that a common system could cater for candidates down to the 40th percentile, although it may be desirable eventually for examinations in such subjects to be accessible to candidates below the present entry levels. In the subject chapters we indicate where possible the potential for extending the scope of the examinations in this way.

12. We had to assure ourselves that the intended ability range, or in some cases the existing range taking O Level and CSE, was indeed covered by the joint examinations. To do so we agreed that this could be said to be the case if candidates were represented in sufficient numbers (as indicated by the grades awarded and by other evidence such as standardised tests) rather than in proportion to their distribution in the school population. In this respect it was necessary to exercise our judgement rather than to rely purely on statistical evidence.


[page 10]

CHAPTER 1: THE FEASIBILITY OF A COMMON SYSTEM OF EXAMINING

Definition of a Common System

13. We take as our basic definition of a common system of examining at 16+ the following:

A single system providing examinations designed for candidates in the same ability range as that for which the GCE O Level and CSE examinations together are currently designed. The examinations may take a number of forms ranging from a common examination where all candidates take the same papers or other tests, to a differentiated examination where candidates, in addition to taking a common paper, may choose between alternative papers or tests at different levels of difficulty. All grades must however be awarded on a single scale and all certificates must bear a common title. (1)
It is our view that a common system is feasible. By this we mean that candidates, in the ability range defined above, can be placed appropriately on a single grading scale and that the introduction of a common system need not affect adversely the education they receive.

Nature of the Evidence

14. Our conclusions rest on a large and varied body of evidence. For the most part this came from the joint examinations and we are indebted to those who made available to us material about the examinations and with whom they were discussed. The evidence from the joint examinations varied in force and weight; they were mounted quickly and were developed before an overall research strategy could be devised. Whilst a number of examinations was offered in each of the main subject areas, some of which attracted large enough entries for conclusions to be made, studies in other subjects provided a less adequate basis for judgement because they were represented by few examinations and attracted small entries. However, we also took into account other evidence, including that from O Level and CSE examinations, where we thought this to be significant in pointing the way forward. Where we had to support the available evidence by the use o( our judgement is made clear in the relevant parts of the report.

15. The joint examinations covered all the subjects that are of principal concern to parents, employers and other users of examination certificates and which together account for the great majority of all examination entries. Inevitably they did not fully reflect the diversity of O Level and CSE subjects. For example, they did not cover the possible combinations (or all the single elements) of the basic sciences or the less frequently taken modern languages. In our judgement, however, the subjects not covered have enough similarities with at least some of the areas in which joint examinations were held to justify reaching general conclusions about them.

(1) The Schools Council recommended the title 'Certificate of Education'.


[page 11]

Our Approach to the Task

16. We recognise that any system of examining is bound to fall short of perfection. The present dual system succeeds to a large extent in maintaining public confidence in its standards of reliability and consistency, but few would argue that O Level and CSE examinations leave no room for improvements or that examining is an exact science. We have no doubt that, if we had subjected the present examinations to the same scrutiny that we gave to the joint examinations, a good many of the same problems would have been found to exist. We proceeded on the assumption that a common system cannot be expected to avoid or remedy all the deficiencies which are inherent in examinations. Accordingly, where we considered that any shortcomings in the joint examinations were shared by O Level and CSE, we have set them aside in coming to our conclusions about feasibility. However, we draw attention wherever possible to opportunities afforded by a major change in the examination system to make improvements which would enhance the new, or indeed any, system.

17. In reviewing the evidence, we paid careful attention to the suitability of syllabuses and assessment procedures for candidates throughout the range of ability entering the examinations in question, and to the presence of sufficient numbers of able and less able candidates, to enable valid judgements to be made in these matters. In most cases the consortia operating the joint examinations devised syllabuses on the basis of elements from existing O Level and CSE syllabuses and this meant, in some subjects, that parts of syllabuses and examinations designed for either end of the intended ability range were omitted. Some of the joint examinations were thus more suited to candidates in the middle of the ability range for that subject. Nevertheless, we were satisfied in most cases that sufficient numbers of candidates of differing abilities took the joint examinations and we have made it clear in the following chapters where attention must now be given to extending syllabuses in order to provide for candidates at either end of the intended ability range.

18. We stood aside from issues concerning curricular approach and method. In those subjects, such as English, mathematics and the sciences, where these matters are under debate, we have taken note of differing views but have not sought to comment on them. Indeed, we consider that a common system of examining should have sufficient flexibility to embrace a wide range of approaches to learning and to adapt itself to change in the curriculum. We have taken it for granted that the examination system should follow the curriculum and not lead it.

The Structure of a Common System

19. A common system has to cater for candidates over a wide range of ability in such a way that able and less able candidates are both given the opportunity of demonstrating their achievement. The joint examinations show that the system needs to rely on a wider range of syllabus content and assessment techniques than either one of the two present examinations. For example, although most of the joint examinations employed the traditional written papers, externally assessed by the board, assessment by the teacher who knows the pupil and his work (school-based assessment) was found useful in searching out skills and under-


[page 12]

standing which cannot be tested in a formal written examination but which can be demonstrated in practical, oral or course work. These advantages do not apply only to the average and less able candidates; there is evidence that abler pupils also can be effectively judged by school-based assessment pitched at the appropriate level.

20. The joint examinations have between them offered the range of examining strategies described below. The first three of these are usually referred to as 'common examinations':

(i) common papers taken by all candidates;

(ii) common papers taken by all candidates, but containing questions designed to present different degrees of difficulty (for example, structured questions which all candidates are expected to attempt, and which have a built-in incline of difficulty);

(iii) common papers taken by all candidates, but containing questions/part-questions with stated different mark weightings (such as tariff questions) which involve choice of question on the part of the candidate;

(iv) a common paper taken by all candidates, plus alternative papers, reflecting different approaches to the subject and/or different forms of assessment, but which are not intended to be at varying levels of difficulty. Candidates can attain the highest grades whichever papers they choose;

(v) a common paper taken by all candidates, plus alternative papers which are intended to be at varying levels of difficulty. If the candidate chooses an easier alternative paper he cannot normally attain the highest grades.

Common Examination and Choice of Paper

21. There is an important distinction, so far as the candidate is concerned, between the approaches to examining described at (i) - (iii) and (iv) - (v) respectively. The former categories (common examinations) do not require the candidate to choose between alternative papers, although they may involve him in choosing between questions at various levels of difficulty or carrying different marks. This kind of choice is exercised by the candidate on the day of the examination usually with previous guidance from the teacher. On the other hand, categories (iv) - (v) require the candidate and teacher to choose between papers, perhaps early in the course of preparing for the examination.

22. Many of the joint examinations adopted the common examination approach in order to avoid this need for prior choice between papers. Successful adoption in any subject depended, to an important degree, on the extent to which questions in common papers could evoke responses at the different levels to be expected from candidates over a wide range of ability. The evidence we considered suggested that in some subjects the common examination approach was successful. In others we judged, after considering the evidence, that there was likely to be a need to adopt one of the other approaches involving candidates in a choice between alternative papers, usually alternatives at different intended levels of difficulty. This applies particularly to those subjects where the range


[page 13]

of skills is wide and/or where certain concepts may be beyond the reach of many pupils in the intended ability range. Differentiated papers may then enable all candidates to perform appropriately; the more difficult paper may also enable a greater degree of discrimination amongst the more able candidates.

23. The need to discriminate across a wide range of ability and to express the results for all candidates on a single grading scale presents certain difficulties if the outcome is to be meaningful. It is not a new problem. In comparing answers to different sections of examinations or to different questions intended to be of equal difficulty, GCE and CSE boards rely partly on statistical and moderating techniques, but above all on the experience and skill of the examiners. There is, however, a particular difficulty relating to 20 (v) above in comparing performance on hard and easy papers, which is rendered especially acute when, for example, a poor performance on the hard paper has to be judged against a good performance on the easier one. The practice adopted in some of the joint examinations of having some papers, or other elements of assessment, common to all candidates proved successful and seems a promising way forward. All in all, we are satisfied that the techniques exist (1) to overcome the difficulties of assessing candidates who have taken differentiated examinations at different levels of difficulty, and of expressing the results on a common grading scale. Whatever the approach used, the most important ingredient in comparing performance is likely to be the judgement of examiners.

24. A major advantage seen in a common system, as compared with the present dual examinations, is that - as the Schools Council put it - it would be easier for schools to form classes on the basis that suited them best; and it would allow schools to defer decisions on putting pupils into different examination groups where this was desirable for particular candidates. We considered carefully the extent to which the need for prior choice between papers, in certain subjects, might reduce these advantages. We concluded that on the whole most of the advantages would remain. Even where alternative papers were required, it should still be possible to make choices later than is sometimes found between O Level and CSE courses. Moreover, although prior choice means that preparation for the examination will differ at least in part, it need not to the same extent as the present dual system predetermine the schools' organisation of teaching groups. These could be formed on the basis most appropriate to the nature of the subject and the educational needs of the pupils rather than on some rigid division between the two parts of the present dual system.

Feasibility

25. Having considered the evidence in all the main subjects we concluded that a common system of examining is feasible. In the chapters that follow we consider, subject by subject, the different approaches adopted in the joint examinations and give our views on the degree to which they were successful. In some subjects (for example, biology) the evidence suggested that a common examination can provide a satisfactory approach - that is, questions can be devised within common papers capable of evoking an appropriate variety of response which

(1) Discussed by, for example, JK Backhouse: Determination of Grades for Two Groups Sharing a Common Paper (Educational Research Vol. 18 No. 2).


[page 14]

reflects appropriate study by candidates and is sufficient to secure adequate discrimination across the range. In some other subjects (such as mathematics) our judgement from the evidence was that an approach to examining is needed which involves a choice of papers designed to be of different degrees of difficulty. In yet others (such as religious studies) the evidence from the joint examinations was slight, but we believe that they could be catered for in various ways within a common system. For these last subjects particularly we have come to our view with the help of evidence from outside the joint examinations and by analogy with other subjects. In no case do we prescribe particular solutions, and we recognise that the examining boards may be able to devise new approaches or to refine ones already adopted.

Other Matters

26. In considering feasibility we had in mind the School Council's recommendations about the features of a common system, particularly the modes in which the examinations could be offered and how the grading scheme should be operated. The Council recommended that examinations under Modes I, II and lII should be available, as well as mixed-mode examinations in which board-based and school-based syllabus elements and methods of assessment are combined. We accept the intention behind this, although it is arguable whether the mode terminology any longer reflects the wide variety of practice to be found in the system. Certainly the distinctions between them have become blurred in recent years, with many Mode I examinations, for example, allowing for part of the syllabus to be devised by schools and for assessments to be undertaken partly within the schools. However schemes may be defined under a common system, it is important to preserve the educational advantages which derive from teachers being involved in the preparation of syllabuses, or elements of syllabuses for their pupils, as well as in cooperating closely with boards in the assessment of candidates' performance. But we accept that an examination of the Mode I type should be available in each main subject.

27. The Council recommended that results in a common system should be expressed in terms of seven grades. A seven grade scale would provide continuity between the dual and common systems and would be of importance in maintaining public understanding and confidence. We are satisfied that the award of the suggested seven grades is feasible and do not suggest that this recommendation should be modified. Where (as discussed in paragraph 22 above) the examination papers or other components are differentiated by their degree of difficulty, it will normally be necessary to limit the grades available to candidates who have taken the easier route. The extent of such limitation might be expected to vary from one subject to another, and indeed from one examination to another within a subject.

(1) Mode IExaminations conducted by the examining board on syllabuses set and published by the board.
Mode IIExaminations conducted by the examining board on syllabuses devised by individual schools or groups of schools and approved by the board.
Mode IIIExaminations set and marked internally by individual schools or groups of schools, but moderated by the board, on syllabuses devised by individual schools or groups of schools.


[page 15]

28. To extend the examinations to correspond to the scale of the present O Level and CSE examinations combined would in our view present no problems of principle. We acknowledge, however, that there will be practical and logistical difficulties in expanding the examinations, both in the preparation of syllabuses by the schools and of arrangements for moderating work assessed by them. There would appear to be no obstacle to offering suitable examinations for private candidates, candidates overseas and candidates from further education, provided that the pattern of syllabuses and examinations in each subject includes alternatives to school-based components to meet their needs.





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CHAPTER 2: ENGLISH (LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE)

Introduction

29. English as a subject involves the practice of complex skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing in many different and highly specific contexts. Teachers and users differ about the relative importance to be attached to the various aspects of the subject. All pupils, whether examination candidates or not, will be called upon to use English in a great variety of ways ranging from the functional levels of the four activities noted above, through the more sophisticated and subtle levels of those activities to using and appreciating the spoken and written words in their expressive and imaginative forms.

30. The assessment of these activities and functions is always in part subjective. In a common system of examining it must include evidence of the candidate's capacity on the one hand to understand and to use language for a wide range of utilitarian purposes, and on the other to appreciate and use it as a personal response to experience. This chapter considers, on the basis of the available evidence, whether a common system of examining can be satisfactorily applied to an appropriate selection of language uses which reflect good curriculum practice and take account of a variety of subsequent targets and a wide range of performance.

The Evidence

31. The joint examinations listed below were studied and discussed with subject interests and two of the consortia concerned (ALSEB/JMB and TWYLREB/JMB). Further reference to the examinations is made by number.

Table 1

No. of candidates
Consortium19731974197519761977
1. AEB/SEREB-1,1751,3128511,557
2. ALSEB/JMB/NWREB/YREB*-3,9473,1627,71911,053
3. LONDON/EMREB†524293---
4. LONDON/OXFORD/NREB†1,420----
5. SWEB/CAMBRlDGE-441420478537
6. TWYLREB/JMB2,1094,0285,75113,22416,480
7. WMEB/JMB (Language)-3,5544,4955,8076,772
8. WMEB/JMB (Literature)-4,8014,9575,2275,731

*NWREB until 1975; YREB from 1976.

†Non-operational study.

The Ability Range

32. For most of the joint examinations the entry appears to have been 'skewed' towards the lower end of the ability range. Since 1974, partly perhaps as a result of the raising of the school leaving age, candidates well below the 40th percentile of the range have been entered. But despite the lack of balance there


[page 17]

have been enough candidates attaining grades A and B to justify conclusions about the whole of the intended ability range.

33. Different considerations apply to examinations in English language on the one hand, and English literature on the other. Because it is so widely specified as a qualification for entry to educational courses, or to employment, more candidates enter for the examinations in English language than any other subject, and the ability range is exceptionally wide. English literature, when examined separately, is not in such demand and the entry is more restricted both numerically and in ability range. For those reasons this chapter deals separately with English language and English literature, and devotes more space to the former. However, this treatment does not imply a judgement whether, as some teachers strongly believe, language and literature should be taught and examined together in a 'unitary approach' or not.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE

The Syllabus and Objectives

34. In contrast to some other subjects, examinations in English are not normally based on a syllabus setting out content in detail. The schemes of all the joint examinations state broad aims and then go on to outline what is required of candidates, so that it is to the form of the examination that one must look to ascertain whether the schemes lead to clear and worthwhile objectives for the whole target group; to accommodate, for example, within the four activities noted above, the understanding and handling of language used in conveying information and ideas, in marshalling argument, in persuading and in expressing a personal response, all the while observing at an appropriate level the conventions of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

35. The joint examination schemes contain aims and objectives which vary in their degree of precision. Three in particular (1, 2, 7) are helpful to teachers in indicating course requirements. Scheme 2 is clearly aimed at ensuring realistically that a variety of language skills is covered and at providing for teachers an appropriately broad and stimulating guide in terms of language activities for the ability range. Scheme 1 offers the most inclusive approach attempted, in that literature is to be examined as one component in a single examination. Scheme 6 is brief, generalised and deliberately unprescriptive: it is designed less to determine or to prompt and more to monitor what each school offers. There is detailed machinery for agreement trials (three per year) and moderation but the process contains more of the implicit than the explicit. This has made it difficult for outside observers to analyse the objectives of the scheme and we have therefore been able to make less use of this scheme than we might otherwise have done in coming to our conclusions about objectives.

36. The objectives presented by some consortia provide a good basis for encouraging balanced and stimulating work, though some schemes (eg 1, 7) may need to broaden their approach to accommodate more easily the pupils in the lower bands of ability. Taken all together the schemes provide satisfactory evidence that clear aims and objectives for a common system of examining in English language can be devised.


[page 18]

The Syllabus and the Examination

37. All schemes but one offer examinations whose form and content make plain what is expected, test a broad sample of the objectives and thus provide a clear framework within which teachers and candidates can work. Schemes 1, 2 and 7 test writing and understanding in a variety of functions and assume a range of essential skills, although with surprisingly differing emphasis on punctuation, spelling and grammar. Scheme 6 employs 100 per cent teacher-based assessment. In this scheme there is no explicit indication that pupils are led to write for a variety of purposes and there appears to be a tendency for subjective and personal writing to predominate, with much less evidence of a range of writing for different purposes than, for example, in 1, 2 and 7 which, taken together, offer a more satisfactory range of language tasks.

38. The range of activities tested includes listening comprehension in 1, 3 and 7, and speaking in all except scheme 6 which, alone of the current examinations, provides for no assessment of oral/aural work, although it is under consideration. The devising of such tests is in its early stages and there have been great difficulties in mounting tests of spoken English in particular. The difficulties are administrative and educational, are shared by the dual system and are therefore not peculiar to a common system of examining. Apart from these problems, which extension of this aspect of examining would increase, many teachers are not convinced that the right method of examination of spoken English lies in formal tests of the 'viva' type often modelled on written assessment procedures, or that the most valid means of assessment have yet been found. Since it is particularly important that an examination in English should include assessment of the spoken language, the best prospect lies in improving the school's own assessment of a variety of the pupil's spoken work. This practice has been adopted, at least in part, by all the consortia offering oral/aural components.

39. Assessment of the work a pupil has done over a period of time, set by the teacher who knows his interests and potential, offers an additional opportunity not constrained by formal examination conditions, to set tasks which match his capabilities and engage his interests. This applies to all levels of ability. A measure of internal assessment of written work is to be found in all the schemes, varying in amount from 100 per cent (6) to 20 per cent (5). It is well known that there is considerable enthusiasm for this form of assessment in the region covered by 6. Despite the administrative burden which it entails, it is this scheme which has achieved the most rapid growth. An important side effect has been to encourage cooperation among teachers and among schools in developing programmes of work and in assessing pupils. Discussions with representatives of this consortium stressed measures taken to improve standardisation and moderation procedures. From 1978 scheme 2 will make available a course work alternative to paper I (expression) which will, however, be subject to the same safeguards as to the range of work required as the external paper itself. This development is in line with the alternative syllabus offered by the JMB O Level examination.

40. There were several interesting and successful attempts to minimise any inconsistency due to subjective marking. Schemes 1, 2 and 7 used two or more


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examiners to mark each script - a practice already found in the dual system. All the papers marked in this way discriminated successfully. Analytical marking, adopted for open-ended comprehension questions, also discriminated well. Multiple-choice objective tests, which further obviate inconsistent marking, occupy a place in 1, 3, 5 and 7; from 1978 it will be the only form of assessment of comprehension in 1.

41. The most successful of the schemes (2) tested a broad and balanced range of written and oral skills and candidates were able to achieve the grades commensurate with what was expected of them. This conclusion is supported by evidence from 7 which shares some of the features of 2 in the written expression papers. The variety of assessment techniques used in all the examinations taken together offers a large body of useful experience which, although not always successful, will serve to point the way forward in a development period. The most effective approaches for a wide range of ability appear to be those of 2 and 6; those of 1 and 7 seem to be too strongly oriented towards the abler candidates without offering sufficient opportunity for less able candidates to perform well.

The Examination and the Ability Range

42. The content and format of the question papers, their weightings and the mark schemes applied to them, are all of crucial importance for the wider range of ability envisaged by the common system. All the examinations attempt to cater for the broader range of candidates by means of a single examination in which all sections are compulsory, although there is some choice of subjects within the sections devoted to expression. It was unfortunate that the two attempts (in 3 by additional options and in 7 by comprehension questions of varying difficulty) to offer tests of graded difficulty were not pursued by the consortia; this approach could be explored in a development phase.

43. Of the forms of composition the discussion-type of essay in 1 and 4, and the summary (a traditional component of GCE examinations and found in 3 and 4), were not found by the consortia to be suited to an examination consisting of common papers since they discriminated only among the abler candidates. Other forms of composition, although they vary considerably as to the amount of writing required and as to the type and extent of the stimuli, are common to all examinations except 6. Little consistency of practice is discernible, however, although all the boards have claimed success for their approach. The variety and the capacity to discriminate of these forms of composition suggest that candidates have adequate opportunity to score appropriately. Nevertheless, on the whole the type of subject required tends to favour the abler would-be GCE candidate. It may be that a format is required which allows for choice either within common papers or by provision of differentiated papers, which would draw out more readily varying levels of ability.

44. One of the more intractable problems lies in the testing of comprehension, which is also subject to a number of approaches as to length and number of passages to be read, types of questions to be answered and their weighting. Longer passages have a valuable place, even though length makes for difficulties


[page 20]

for the less able candidates. Subtlety and remoteness of style also create difficulties: 1 and 7 show general evidence of these characteristics; 2 did so in one: year. Some of the questions set were also likely to cause difficulty: reliance on factual information (1) did not give the abler candidates a chance to show their capabilities; loose questions (1, 2, 7) or unclear instructions (1, 7) were unhelpful, above all to the less able. Even in the most successful attempt to pitch passages and questions appropriately (2) the difficulty of catering for the lower CSE candidates is evident. The quality of passages selected and of questions set on them in this scheme has been high. There might be difficulties, as for 2 in the one year mentioned above, in maintaining this high level from year to year, and it is important that the skills needed for setting such questions should be developed and shared.

45. The evidence of speaking and listening comprehension tests is much less extensive since much is in the form of course work assessment. These tests are at an early stage of development and are subject to inherent difficulties as suggested in paragraph 38. The examples of scheme 1 betray unrealistic demands in speaking and an emphasis on factual recall in the listening test.

Marking and Grading

46. The mark schemes and subsequent processes of adjustment translate objectives and criteria into hard practice. Scheme 6 offers helpful criteria specifying qualities to be looked for in the award of grades. Other schemes offer through their examiners' reports a cumulative experience of what examiners are seeking. However, in several schemes criteria are revealed in the mark schemes of which teachers and candidates may not be aware. The mark schemes also reveal a great variety of practice even on matters of common concern (eg mechanical errors); this may give some cause for disquiet in an examination intended to certify the performance of candidates on a nationally valid common grade scale. Nevertheless, 2 does show that it is possible to have formal expectations in respect of grammar, spelling and punctuation according to the ability of the candidate. Where the common system is particularly affected is in the narrowing of the band of marks awarded which can be discerned in the comprehension papers of 1 and 2; in 2 insufficient marks are allotted for the less able, and also for the abler if their potentially greater perception is to be rewarded; in 1 marks tend to be limited to factual items with little allowance for reasonable alternatives. In both 1 and 2 the procedures adopted for the adjustment of marks to the specified weighting resulted in further 'bunching'. However, there seems every possibility that these technical problems can be solved.

47. The main problem has been to allow sufficient scope for the less able to perform and be adequately rewarded at their level. In both the composition and comprehension sections schemes have tended for various reasons to favour candidates of GCE calibre but on occasion have failed to reward them adequately in terms of the greater subtlety or perception of which they should be capable. However, from the variety of experience some examples (2 and 7 in composition, and 2 in comprehension) suggest that a form of examination can be devised in English which caters for the ability range envisaged.


[page 21]

Extension

48. Although since the end of the experimental studies proper the joint examinations in English have gained momentum in two or three consortia, the analysis of their development has been much less detailed, so that it has been difficult to discover the effects of extension. Overall there will be an increased requirement for agreement trials and moderation; this will occur irrespective of the introduction of a common system. As more teachers become involved the difficulties of maintaining comparability and reliability of results may be increased.

Conclusion

49. The joint examinations have shown that in English language aims and objectives can be devised to cater for the target range of ability. The more successful schemes have effectively tested a broad range of written and oral skills. The various examination techniques tried indicate between them that techniques can be devised to cater for candidates of diverse levels of attainment.

50. In short, a common system of examining in English language is educationally feasible and could, though it need not necessarily, take the form of a common examination, provided that this is carefully and skilfully designed and makes provision for suitable choice for candidates to show their respective capabilities. Some of the joint examinations were notably more successful than others in solving the problems associated with a common examination. Further work should involve the sharing of experience and should build on the more promising lines of development.

ENGLISH LITERATURE

51. The response to literature is difficult to examine, whether assessment is based on set texts or on a free choice of reading. It requires a maturity and breadth of experience that many 16 year olds have not achieved; this makes it difficult to design an examination for a very wide range of ability. The problems are related to those mentioned in paragraph 44 in connection with the testing of comprehension. The plays of Shakespeare are the proper material for some pupils but beyond the understanding of others. If a reading of Shakespeare is equated with one of, say, Paul Gallico, what many people would regard as the higher order of achievement of the candidate who has read and responded to Shakespeare is not rewarded. Moreover, the pupil not only has to know what to look for in a literary work; he needs a specialised vocabulary if he is adequately to express his response. In short, the books and examining approaches which are appropriate for some candidates are inappropriate for others.

52. The general practice of schools is to enter their abler candidates for English literature as a separate subject in GCE O Level. Most CSE examinations have adopted the unitary approach, although a proportion of CSE candidates are now taking English literature as a separate subject. In 1976 the number of such candidates amounted to 10 per cent of the total CSE entries in English. Literature is occasionally available as 'further literature', that is, additional to a literature component in the unitary examination.


[page 22]

53. The evidence concerning literature from the joint examinations is slender. Only one consortium (8) offered an entirely separate examination in literature. One other (1), in addition to its unitary approach, offered extra GCE O Level certification for a further paper in literature. Scheme 3 (non-operational) also offered a further endorsement for literature but so few candidates took this option, which was designed for the more able candidates, that its evidence is of itself negligible. Consortia 2, 4 and 6 did not include literature in their schemes; 2 indeed has excluded it until a decision on a common system of examining is arrived at.

54. Up to and including 1977, schools using scheme 8 could offer any one of three approaches:

a set book examination comprising an external paper and course work;
a literary themes examination comprising a paper and course work;
a course work approach entailing 100 per cent teacher assessment.
Scheme 1 offered a set books approach with two of the books tested by external examination and four by compulsory continuous assessment. Scheme 3 offered course work assessment in the main examination with a set books approach in the additional option. From 1978, 8 proposed to drop the thematic approach. Since it has constantly yielded lower GCE grades than the set books approach it may be inferred that fewer able and more less able candidates have been entered for it. The consortium expected of the thematic approach 'some response to reading over a wide field' but this expectation was not borne out and many candidates offered evidence only 'of light reading with no critical commentary and little depth of thought'. This approach appears to have been adopted to cater for middle and lower ability candidates, but it appears that neither they nor their teachers are equipped to cope with an examination that offers so little guidance. The set books paper of 8 is clearly more difficult and more nearly resembles GCE O Level literature papers in book selection and style of question, so that it may well require too advanced a literary and linguistic command for the lower part of the range. For the 1977 examination scheme 1 abolished the external paper so that the assessment of literature is effected by internal assessment alone, moderated by visiting moderators. These changes therefore leave in all two approaches - that of examined set books and that of course work assessment, whether based on set books or a broader reading experience. The two approaches reflect the dilemma stated above.

55. The question papers of 8 (set books) again illustrate the problem. For instance, Dickens, Charlotte Bronte and Stan Barstow are alternatives in the prose section but are hardly equivalent in either length or difficulty. The drama and poetry sections are much more closely geared to the abler candidates in their level of material and questions. In 1 also, several of the set books would seem difficult for CSE candidates and its questions are generally limited to recall. The poetry question, however, is test of a comprehension which is similar to that frequently set in O Level. The set books approach also tends to offer essay questions occupying 35-40 minutes each.

56. Mark schemes in 8 have a positive emphasis. Lengthy and detailed schemes are offered in the set books paper. In the course work approach the syllabus has been amplified to include some guidance on the creative writing option and


[page 23]

on the monitoring of the different tasks set by the teacher. However, a wide variety of practice is still emerging, making difficulties for standardisation.

57. The tests in literature offer little encouragement for extension. It is significant that the thematic approach which offered opportunities to the CSE range of pupils has been dropped because the consortium finds it unsatisfactory. The set books papers appear to offer scope only for the abler candidate. As to the course work approach consortium 8 has noted its concern with the problem of assessment. Scheme 1 also stresses the problem raised by the very wide range of books which might be offered by schools and which the examiners had to study. It mentions also the lack of confidence of teachers in carrying out their role in assessment. In spite of these doubts and those of teachers it is the course work approach, entailing expensive visiting moderation, which is to be the only form of assessment of literature for 1977.

Conclusion

58. The intrinsic difficulties of setting a common examination for the full ability range of the target group are greater for English literature than for English language. Although the evidence from the joint examinations is more restricted for literature it illustrates these difficulties, and it must remain doubtful whether a satisfactory common examination can be designed. Only one of the operational joint examinations explored the most likely approach to assessing the response to literature in a common system - that of differentiated papers. Insofar as the other joint examinations included the assessment of literature they confirm the validity of this approach and offer some useful indications which might be followed up in adopting it. This fact, supported by analogy with other comparable subjects, makes it reasonable to conclude that techniques of examining English literature within a common system can be devised. Among the matters deserving further consideration is the possibility of offering two literature options, one explicitly specialist for those intending to pursue studies in a literary subject in the sixth form, and another of a more general nature. Alternatively, a further and more difficult paper could be offered for literature additional to an examination in English based on a unitary approach.



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CHAPTER 3: MATHEMATICS

Introduction

59. The study of mathematics includes a wide variety of activities and understanding, ranging from the acquisition of basic skills of numeracy to the consideration of abstract concepts, and involves their use in a large number of practical applications. There is much current debate about which aspects are most important to pupils of different abilities and at different stages. There is a wide diversity of approaches, often polarised between 'traditional' and 'modern' content; this complicates the discussion of feasibility, since an examination can test only a selected number of aspects. It was no part of our brief to adjudicate between these approaches, but it was necessary to recognise their existence in the joint examinations.

60. The task of assessing, within a common system, the whole group of pupils currently covered by CSE and GCE O Level examinations in mathematics thus presents a considerable challenge. The most able (some, but not all of whom, will wish to continue with mathematics as a study) will need to confront difficulties when a problem has to be analysed, a number of concepts and techniques marshalled, and a solution accurately produced. The less able will not only find the subject intrinsically difficult but will also have to contend with poor reading and comprehension, and difficulty in expressing their ideas and showing their skills on paper. The problem for a common system is to confront this range of pupils appropriately and positively. An extra dimension is added by the fact that, partly because of the importance of mathematics as a subject and partly because employers and higher education often demand a qualification in it, a mathematics examination is taken by a high proportion of pupils. Research suggests that in 1974 about 72 per cent of the age group entered for this subject.

The Evidence

61. The main body of evidence available was the set of joint examinations. Discussions were held with two of the consortia (1 and 5) and with subject interests. The numbers of candidates involved in the examinations in the different years are tabulated below. Further reference to the examinations is made by number as indicated.


[page 25]

Table 2

No. of candidates
Consortium197219731974197519761977
1. WJEC Schemes I & II-7898691,1824,5099,120
2. LONDON/SEREB--1,1271,182--
3. JMB/ALSEB/NWREB
    (later JMB/ALSEB/YREB/TWYLREB)
--3,2133,0536,0528.643
4. AEB/MIDDLESEX--2,2342,8092,9303,167
5. CAMBRIDGE/EAEB-1,2031.6912,4312,3666,166
6. OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE/SREB*--514276--
7. SWEB/CAMBRIDGE--304308286345
8. EMREB*155-311---
252-235---

*Non-operational study.

The Ability Range

62. The whole range of ability under consideration was adequately represented in four of the studies (1-4) but not necessarily in proportion to the distribution in the school population. This is borne out by the evidence of the NFER Test 100 of scholastic aptitude, which also confirmed that in 3 and 4 the range extended well below the 40th percentile, a fact further supported by the percentage of low grades awarded in 4. There is evidence that in recent years only borderline candidates have been entered in 5 and, from some schools, in 1 in 1977. Scheme 6 did not recruit a sufficient number of less able pupils. Those schemes which were basically 'traditional' (1 and 3) or basically 'modern' (5) may not have attracted a representative range of schools.

The Syllabus and Objectives

63. All the syllabuses included a broad statement of aims and a list of content to be covered, but teachers had to rely on specimen and past examination papers for an indication of the expected depth of treatment of the topics listed in the syllabus. No syllabus included a detailed statement of objectives, although 2 attempted a clear statement of aims and these were well balanced between applications and study of the subject for its own sake. No syllabus referred to or encouraged open-ended or investigational work; on the other hand none precluded these or a discovery approach/practical bias to the teaching.

64. The schemes included little syllabus development but in 2 a good attempt was made to merge 'traditional' and 'modern' content. Scheme 1 was basically 'traditional' and 5 was basically 'modern' in content; it could be argued that these lack balance because certain aspects were omitted. Two other schemes (3 and 4) included both 'modern' and 'traditional' content in optional sections, and in the core of 4. Choice within a syllabus should perhaps be between meaningful options and not between 'traditional' and 'modern' content as in 4 and to some extent in 3. Scheme 3 probably developed as it did because the 'modern' content was part of the CSE syllabuses; an unfortunate by-product might have been the identification of the 'modern' option with the less able. In that scheme, also, the options were limited to two; a more wide-scale use of the examination would require more options to be made available to schools. In a similar way alternative parallel schemes would have to be provided for 1 and 5.


[page 26]

65. One scheme (5) probably did not provide an adequate basis for A Level work because of the 'modern' content of the syllabus, its lack of depth and examination questions which were insufficiently demanding. Schemes 1, 3 (only the syllabus with alternative A) and 4 provided a basis of further study which was probably as good as that of the O Levels of the parent GCE boards. It is easy to see why some teachers thought that 2 provided an improved basis for A Level; the syllabus was broader and the examination more demanding than for O Level. Calculus was included as an option in 2, 3 and 4.

66. Basic skills of calculation were tested in all the examinations but sometimes in isolation from applications or in contrived situations (criticisms which can of course be made of O Level and CSE examinations as well). Basic skills and applications were given insufficient attention in 5 in which certain other topics were rather over-valued. Some of the 'modern' content was tested in some examination papers by rather trivial and meaningless examples. Estimation, approximation, limits of accuracy and significant figures found a place on most syllabuses and were occasionally tested.

67. Looked at from the point of view of less able pupils, for whom the examination was terminal, some of the syllabuses were rather full and heavy. The most unsatisfactory were those in which all pupils had to cover the whole syllabus - 1 (Scheme I) and 4. Some difficult topics, which would lack meaning and value for less able pupils, were included in 5 - for example the study of transformations for their own sake. Each of the syllabuses of 1 (Scheme II), 2 and 3 would have provided the basis for a course which was as worthwhile as that based on the CSE examinations of the parent boards.

68. Some syllabuses emphasised understanding and applications rather than memorisation of facts and lengthy manipulation. The issue to candidates of a sheet listing required formulae and standard symbols was a helpful feature of 3; the formulae required in certain questions were also quoted on some papers in 2 and 4. Although some examinations required skills and techniques to be applied only to very straightforward problems (1 and 5), they were no more deficient than many CSE examinations in this respect. In 4, only one school (with 50 to 70 candidates each year) made use of the positive feature that a Mode III element could replace the third paper, over the period 1975 to 1977. In 3, 102 candidates submitted course work in 1976 as an alternative to the third paper, and in 1977 454 candidates did so.

69. Taken together, the syllabuses and objectives of the joint examinations were sufficiently varied and well-considered to make the examinations useful as evidence on feasibility, and to support the view that, if a common system is introduced, appropriate syllabuses can be devised in the period leading up to its introduction.

The Syllabus, the Examination and the Ability Range

70. The examinations devised by the consortia to cover their syllabuses and objectives give some indications about the kind of common system which would be suitable for mathematics. In particular, there are clear signs that examinations


[page 27]

based on common papers taken by all pupils have run into considerable difficulties. Indeed, it is significant that those consortia which ran joint examinations in the form of a common examination - 1 (Scheme I), 4 and 5 - have switched or are switching to some form of papers differentiated according to difficulty.

71. The pattern of two common papers in 1 (Scheme I) was never popular with schools and will be discontinued after 1977. It was not considered appropriate to face less able candidates with material with which they could not cope and to make able candidates spend time on simple tasks. The three written papers of 4 included a difficult third paper based on one of three parallel, alternative syllabuses; a Mode III option was also available as an alternative to one of these three, although this has had a poor take-up. This arrangement turned out to be unsatisfactory for less able pupils; in the last two years 50 per cent to 70 per cent of the candidates scored less than 25 per cent on paper 3 alternatives. Here again, a change to differentiated papers is envisaged.

72. The pattern of 5 was also unsatisfactory. A large number of structured questions made great demands on the less able; in the early years a large number of candidates achieved little on the second paper, and the absence of difficult problems meant that insufficient demands were made on the most able. Those involved with this study have conceded that, in catering for the needs of the average, they neglected the needs of both the least and the most able groups. The scheme has recently been developed (non-operationally) to introduce new approaches more suitable for the extremes of the ability range; a pattern of differentiated papers, comprising four papers, will probably be tried in 1979.

73. The other three main studies provided different possible models for a common system from which a range of other models can be derived; all included a hard paper based on an extended syllabus. In 1 (Scheme II) there were three papers on an incline of difficulty, with candidates taking two. In 2 there were two papers and an optional further harder paper, with course work assessment for all. In 3 there were two papers, and either a third paper or internal assessment of course work. In the first two of these schemes a restricted range of grades was available on the results of the easier combination of papers. These three schemes all worked sufficiently well to indicate a possible way towards a satisfactory common system, and we believe that it is in this direction, rather than towards a common examination, that progress could be made in catering for the extremes of the ability range in mathematics.

74. There was a large range of types of questions in the joint examinations. Indeed, a wider range of assessment techniques was used in some of the experimental examinations than is to be found in any single O Level or CSE examination. This was certainly true of 2, and also of 3 and 4 for some pupils. This should have meant that a wider range of objectives could be tested. Externally-set examination papers for all pupils occurred only in 1 and 5. The hours pupils spent in the examination room varied from 2¾ (plus teacher assessment) to 4 or 5¼. but the examiners tried to reduce the examination load on the less able pupils in 3 and 4.

75. Objective tests were included in 2, 3 and 4 and were machine-marked in 2 and 3; these gave good syllabus coverage and tested basic skills in an


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efficient manner. They, and the short-answer questions which were also well used, ensured that those poor at reading and writing were given an opportunity to tackle some mathematical questions. Moreover, all candidates were tested on the core syllabus by both objective/short-answer questions and more open-ended/problem questions which required greater skill and deeper understanding.

76. Course work was included in 3, with detailed guidance being given to the teachers covering possible study topics, the supervision of pupils, time allocation, presentation of work, records and assessment. Such guidance is essential though it may make great demands on the teacher. Project work was tried in 6 and 7 and topic work was a part of 6 and of the course work option in 3. This kind of work can be educationally beneficial if well conceived and properly supervised; but it might make little contribution to discrimination as was found in 7.

77. Teacher assessment was an important part of 2. Some of the teachers involved in this study experienced internal assessment for the first time; the majority of teachers favoured its inclusion and none doubted that internal assessment had a place in mathematics. Guidance was given by the boards and some criteria were listed but these were described in terms which, apparently, the teachers found difficult to interpret with precision.

78. No choice of paper, or of question within a paper, was allowed the candidates in 1 (Scheme I) and 5, and this contributed to their unsatisfactory features; the demands were too great for many and not great enough for some. However, although there was similarly no choice of question on the first two papers of 2, 3 and 4 or on any of the papers of 1 (Scheme I), this did not appear to have disadvantages, owing to the different nature of these papers. Less able pupils probably have difficulty in making wise choices, and the absence of choice ensures that all the candidates do the same examination and that teachers cover the whole syllabus. The mark allocation for different questions was declared on some papers in 1 and 4 and was an integral part of 3. This was probably only satisfactory on the hardest paper taken by the more able pupils, because it required many judgements and choices to be made; the candidates were required to enter the examination room aware of which parts of the paper they would attempt to answer.

79. Some of the weaker candidates were discouraged by the hard paper in 2 for which they were inappropriately entered; by the equivalent one in 3 in years when there was no alternative; and by that in 4 because it had to be taken. This was inevitable; questions chosen to discriminate well were likely to discourage many pupils. In 1974 too many pupils worked the hard paper of 2; fewer lower ability candidates were entered in 1975. Teachers and parents in consultation with pupils appeared to be reluctant to decide which combination of papers candidates should take. This was also true, to some extent, of 1 (Scheme II). It is interesting to note that the revised and only scheme of WJEC for 1978 requires teachers to make this decision: either papers 1 and 2 or papers 2 and 3 for each pupil.

80. In general, the studies provided evidence to indicate that the least able must be spared the ordeal of facing a very hard written paper, but that a


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difficult paper must be included in the examination. The most able performed adequately on the easier papers and found enough interest in them. The take-up of the Mode III option of 4 and the course work option of 3 were disappointing, but it can be argued that it is desirable that every scheme should include this kind of option for the sake of both teachers and pupils. The teacher assessment imposed on the schools in 2 appeared to work satisfactorily.

Marking and Grading

81. The marking schemes appeared to be generally satisfactory with one exception (5), in which too few marks rewarded method/approach. Working to an agreed marking scheme examiners produced a single order of merit for each examination, and in general discrimination was good. There may have been some bunching in the distribution of scores on some papers in 3 for example, and amongst weaker candidates in 5; but the examination boards said that no great difficulties were experienced in fixing the various grade boundaries.

82. The predictable problems of grading were experienced in the schemes of 'take 2 papers from 3' in 1 and 8. There was the difficulty of awarding an appropriate grade to a pupil who performed badly on the harder combination of papers intended to discriminate across the upper ability range. There was also the problem of equating the standard of work required for the same grade on different combinations of papers. In these studies, no sophisticated statistical techniques were used: the two populations were graded independently and comparisons made through the common paper. This was also the procedure adopted in 2.

83. No problems should be experienced in the large-scale use of the written papers in any major extension of the examinations, but more precise guidance concerning teacher assessment would be needed, together with further consideration of moderation procedures.

Conclusion

84. Although no single joint examination in mathematics offers a complete solution to the problems of assessing the performance of pupils over the wide range of ability envisaged, taken together they have indicated the way forward to a feasible common system of examining. They have demonstrated a number of possibilities and made use of a wide range of assessment techniques. There is a need for different forms of question for the able pupils which are not appropriate for the majority, and this suggests that in mathematics a common examination comprising only written papers taken by all the candidates cannot be satisfactory for both extremes of the ability range. The most satisfactory of the examinations adopted an approach through papers differentiated according to ability, including a paper based on an extended syllabus for the more able.


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CHAPTER 4: SCIENCE

Introduction

85. Secondary school science courses leading to public examinations are still very largely in physics, chemistry and biology, the main demand from users being for O Level or equivalent qualifications in these subjects. However, a wider range of science studies is available for examination at 16+, including variants of physics (eg engineering science) and biology (eg human biology), and combined or unified courses like physics-with-chemistry or integrated science.

86. These and other developments have meant both new thinking on teaching methods, involving an approach to science as a process of inquiry leading to understanding - reflected particularly in such work as the Nuffield Science Teaching Project - rather than as the absorption of large blocks of factual material; and the extension of the ability range for which science courses are or should be available, mainly through the development of CSE courses. Nevertheless, the sciences, especially the physical sciences, emerge as demanding subjects with a candidature very largely from the 100th to the 60th percentile of the ability spectrum. Although the whole range of approaches to science effectively draws in candidates down to the 40th percentile, no established pattern of science courses for weaker pupils entered for public examinations exists to assist the judgements necessary in assessing the feasibility of a common examining system.

The Evidence

87. It is a disappointing feature of the joint examinations that, apart from one small-scale non-operational exercise in some aspects of integrated science, they were all mounted in physics, chemistry or biology. The main conclusions of this report must therefore be related to these subjects. However, a great deal of work has been done elsewhere on aspects of science assessment. Some account has been taken of this which, together with experience of other developments in science teaching, makes it possible to attempt some more general conclusions.

88. The joint examinations in science are listed in the following table. The list number (following the subject initial letter) is used as a reference throughout the rest of the text. Discussions and meetings were held with some of the consortia and with a range of subject interests and science subject professional institutes.


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Table 3

No. of candidates
Consortium19731974197519761977
BIOLOGY B
1. AEB/MREB-564396--
2. CAMBRIDGE/EAEB8591,1221,6651,5813,011
3. JMB/WMRB8331,9442,8213,2925,383
5. WJEC3623963542,9535,237
CHEMISTRY C
1. JMB/WMEB-3,6133.7414.3735,938
2. LONDON/YREB-528329--
PHYSICS P
1. JMB/ALSEB/NWREB-2,3482,5675,4228,285
2. OXFORD/SREB-1,1561,3901,507CSE 614*
GCE 903
INTEGRATED SCIENCE
1. AEB/EMREB†[No data]

†Non-operational study.

*Marked and graded separately from 1977.

The Ability Range

89. GCE O Level and CSE entries for physics and chemistry have generally been from the higher ability levels. Biology has tended to draw from a rather wider range of ability, and has attracted far more of the increased numbers of pupils taking examinations at 16+ than the other two subjects. The consortia thought that all their studies had attracted the full ability range currently entered for GCE and CSE examinations in their subjects, but there were doubts about whether high ability pupils were proportionately represented in some cases.

The Syllabus and Objectives

90. Most of the work on syllabuses was related to a common examination rather than to other forms of a common system of examining. Although understandable, this has proved unfortunate since it limits the extent to which a definitive judgement of feasibility can be made.

91. Some consortia considered that they had achieved a fair measure of success with syllabuses leading to common examination papers. In general this may be true for biology; but for physics and chemistry such examinations have unsatisfactory features which make the common examination approach less suitable. The middle of the ability range for physics and chemistry currently examined by the dual system is well enough provided for; the problems arise for the more able and less able pupils. Whilst the syllabuses provide satisfactory objectives it is not clear that these can be realised, since much of the syllabus content is conceptually too demanding for the less able, or fails to provide adequate stimulus for the more able. One of the main factors involved is the mathematics content necessary, particularly in physics and chemistry 16+ examinations, for potential A Level students. (The science institutes expressed particular concern about the mathematical implications of a move to a common examination for this reason). In particular, the attempt to assess the full ability range by means of a common examination in physics and chemistry is difficult to reconcile with the need to provide an adequate grounding for A Level work. More detailed comment on the joint studies for the particular subjects follows.


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Biology

92. It appears that many syllabuses are potentially suitable for all the intended ability range; and that the subject intrinsically allows for candidates to respond at different levels to the same examination questions. Most of the syllabuses reflected the more traditional features of current GCE/CSE ones; an exception was B3 which introduced work units, whereby pupils of different abilities were enabled to work at their own level. Within the more conventional approach of B1 and B2 there was also an attempt to distinguish between the levels of response expected across the ability range. Apart from B3 the syllabuses were too long, although this is also a common feature of current GCE and CSE science syllabuses.

Chemistry

93. The inclusion of material too difficult for some candidates was most marked in this subject. Whilst knowledge and (sometimes) comprehension could generally be tested across the ability range, synthesis and evaluation were rarely relevant to the weaker candidates. Use of formulae, equations, calculations, chemical bonding, were all identified by teachers as topics to be omitted for weaker candidates, and the demands of the more recent examinations have been less severe. C1 incorporated options, thus requiring selection of content for both teacher and pupil. Despite the danger that able pupils may be tempted to opt for 'easier' questions in the examination than they should, this structure does point the way for further development in defining parts of a syllabus likely to be relevant only to the more able. In this subject and physics the attempt has generally been made to reduce the length of syllabuses to reasonable proportions. Such attempts deserve encouragement, despite the ever present difficulty of ensuring that the omissions do not result in an unbalanced experience for pupils.

Physics

94. Both P1 and 2 were basically traditional physics syllabuses, although 2 covered some unusual topics. Initially, 1 adopted a common core plus alternative options aimed broadly at the more able and the less able pupils, although it has since been modified. This differentiated approach obviously presents difficulties in terms of equivalence, and implies selection for the alternatives at some stage, P2 is more straightforward, but somewhat behind current curriculum development in certain respects. Its stated objectives were ambitious and would be very difficult to implement fully.

The Syllabus and the Examination

95. For biology a common examination seems feasible; candidates can be faced with tasks which can be tackled in various ways and at different levels. The studies which used this approach (B2 and B5) had to overcome many difficulties on the way, but the use of optional papers and teacher assessment was found to allow the best chance of varying the level of tasks appropriately. For physics and chemistry, however, the need to cater for a wider ability range than these subjects have traditionally attracted seems to require a wider battery of assessment techniques, involving an approach through differentiated papers.


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96. In all three subjects the consortia used broadly similar techniques in their written examination sections: a first paper of objective questions in some form, and a second of structured questions, sometimes (in biology) with essay-type questions added. For pupils at the middle and lower end of the ability range for the subjects, and particularly for less able pupils, the need to read large amounts of material and to express themselves in prose presented difficulty, even in a structured paper. On the other hand, structured questions were useful for enabling many average and some less able pupils to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. Essay-type questions were considered particularly useful in identifying and catering for the more able.

97. Teacher assessment is seen as an important means of allowing flexibility in teaching methods across the ability range. Such assessment featured in four of the biology schemes, and was substantial in both chemistry schemes. In physics it was confined to practical work, although course work assessment was a possibility with one of the papers in P1. Some research evidence supports the view that straightforward practical examinations have been of limited value and are better replaced by school-based assessment of practical skills. Such skills are seen as important in the biology schemes, but only B1 and B2 used a formal examination for them. Similarly there is no formal practical examination in either chemistry scheme; and in physics, P1 has recently abandoned this approach. A generally greater commitment to teacher assessment has obvious implications for teacher time.

Marking and Grading

98. There has generally been a conscious attempt not to approach the studies from a specifically GCE or CSE standpoint. In all cases assessment was carried out by examiners from both backgrounds, and in all consortia the attempt was made to see candidates as part of a continuum. Although difficulties of discrimination arose for particular parts of the ability range the overall picture is one of reasonable satisfaction with the technical aspects of the written papers. There was more concern, however, about technical aspects of internal assessment, particularly moderation procedures. In biology, three schemes gave rise to anxiety about the varying standards of teacher assessment, although in all cases criteria had been clearly stated. But both the reports of the consortia and our own scrutiny suggest that these are difficulties which can be overcome.

The Examination and the Ability Range

99. As indicated, the schemes have given some clear pointers to the difficulties of catering for a wide ability range in science subjects, and suggest that the use of common papers may present considerable problems if all candidates are to be assessed properly and stimulated to give of their best. The evidence is that these problems may be manageable in biology, where a sound line of development may be the use of common core material, supported by options allowing pupils to perform at different levels. For physics and chemistry, however, differentiated papers may be necessary, and it is no criticism of the experimental studies that they do not provide a firm answer. The major difficulty of providing for the less able pupils already exists in the dual system, and arises largely from the abstractions and mathematics involved. The studies have resulted in examinations which


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perform technically as well as, in some cases better than, existing examinations. It was perhaps too much to expect that they would solve current curriculum problems, particularly for the less able pupils.

100. It follows therefore that work must continue into the design of syllabuses and forms of assessment which define what might be expected of pupils at different levels of ability. In the studies there is a relative shortage of evidence about the operation of a common system based on differentiated papers as distinct from a common examination. Further development work should therefore include investigation into a differentiated approach, with assessment schemes using papers set at different levels.

101. It also seems necessary to continue with investigation of the value of alternative approaches to science. The studies concentrated on the sciences as three separate subjects, and little attention has been paid to the potential of more broad-based approaches (eg integrated science), which might be more relevant to some pupils at all levels of ability. A number of schools have adopted these approaches, which are relevant to the whole range of ability. The development and design of a range of new syllabuses reflecting conjoint and unified approaches to science could make an important contribution to the place of science in a common 16+ examination system.

Conclusion

102. A common system of examining in biology, chemistry and physics is feasible. In biology, it could take the form of a common examination but this approach would not be fully satisfactory for chemistry and physics. The studies offer sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion that a common system of examining is possible in chemistry and physics. Differentiated papers will probably be required, however, if the most able pupils are to be given an adequate preparation for A Level work, and the less able are to be stimulated and enabled to achieve their potential. More development work is urgently needed in these two subjects and should follow these lines.

103. The place of unified or integrated approaches to science subjects is less clear. But they should have a place, and further work on them is needed. The relationship between individual science subjects and these other approaches will need to be clarified.


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CHAPTER 5: HISTORY

Introduction

104. History uses data from the past. It seeks to make pupils aware of evidence, and to give them a sense of the different nature of bygone ages, a knowledge of cause and effect in human affairs, and some sense of identity with those who lived in the past. It is concerned with change through time and with understanding the present through an appreciation of the past. It relies heavily on narrative and the use of literary skills. It requires the development of attitudes and interests by the student as well as abilities and skills. As the scope of history is vast, there is a wide range of syllabuses.

105. It would be no less necessary to have a range of syllabuses under a common system of examining. History examinations should assess the capacity to abstract information from primary and secondary sources, to analyse and synthesise information relevant to an argument, and to communicate the conclusions reached whether in writing or in speech. Reliance must be placed on tried techniques which include traditional essay-type questions, objective tests, oral examinations, projects and course work. With regard to sources it is recognised that work on documentary evidence from medieval or earlier English history or from the history of another cultural group, can raise particular problems of transcription.

The Evidence

106. The evidence available was the set of joint examinations and discussions held with consortium 1 and with subject interests. The numbers of candidates involved in the consortia examinations were as follows. Reference is subsequently made by number as indicated.

Table 4

No. of candidates
Consortium19731974197519761977
1. SREB/OXFORD-920959805318 OXFORD*
+306 SREB
2. WMEB/JMB-3,0563,2494,7486,607
3. LONDON/MIDDLESEX†-547(233)--
4. CAMBRIDGE/SWEB- -91106131

†Non-operational.

*Separate examinations

The small scale inquiry undertaken by Cambridge/SWEB has not been taken into account since syllabuses and evidence of objectives were not received. Apart from a small follow-up investigation of multiple choice testing, the London/Middlesex study ceased after the 1974 examination. Thus the most recent data come from schemes 1 and 2, which involved operational examinations and made use of history content already taught and tested in existing O Level and CSE examinations. Scheme 3 studied the effectiveness of different examining tech-


[page 36]

niques, for example objective tests and projects. It used the content in common in the existing O Level and CSE syllabuses concerned but no operational examinations were set after 1974.

The Ability Range

107. Scheme 3 covered small numbers of candidates mainly drawn from the middle ranges of ability. The content selected suggests a degree of bias in 1 towards the more able and in 2 towards the less able. In 1976 a report on 2 suggested that candidates from outside the target range of ability were being entered. Whilst it seems that candidates of different ability levels were not present in proportion to the numbers taking the present O Level and CSE examinations, it is probable that the full range of ability under consideration has been covered in the joint examinations.

The Syllabus and Objectives

108. Two of the schemes (1 and 3) identified different levels of objectives which accord in general with those indicated in the introduction to this chapter; the objectives of 2 appear to be more narrowly conceived. The content examined in all three schemes is similar to that in existing O Level and CSE syllabuses. The individual schemes covered:

Scheme 1: Modern British History 1867-1964, an area now chosen by schools taking both O Level and CSE examinations. This study with its broad objectives represents a forward-looking attempt to combine the historical content of O Level and CSE for a wide ability range.

Scheme 2: British Social and Economic History from 1700 to the present day, The study makes use of a core section from 1700 to 1850 with eleven optional topics from 1850 to the present. A project of not more than 3,000 words is required. The study is essentially concerned with knowledge of a given body of facts although one aim of 'understanding historical material' goes somewhat beyond this.

Scheme 3: Modern World History, restricted to eight post-1919 topics. The consortium found differences in the popularity of topics between boys and girls and between O Level and CSE candidates. Of these differences the latter may indicate a problem to be overcome in the selection of content for new examinations under a common system.

109. In general, syllabus and objectives are comparable to those in O Level and CSE examinations, although 2 is narrower than some good existing practice (eg the Schools Council's History 13-16 Project, examined by SUJB and SREB.) Content and objectives appear suitable for an ability range from the 100th to the 40th percentile although the evidence relating to the extremes of the ability range was less convincing. It is significant that a report of 1974 (1) indicated that the syllabus tended to be more appropriate for the able, and that a report of 1976 (2) suggested that candidates were being entered from below the ability range for which the examination was designed. The selection of syllabus content would need to be given very careful attention in developing examinations to be used on a wider scale under a common system.

110. The two operational studies appear capable of providing a basis for further study at sixth form level, and in further education.


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The Syllabus and the Examination

111. The examinations and the assessment techniques employed sampled the syllabuses in a balanced way. In 2 the emphasis on factual recall, albeit modified to some extent by the inclusion of a special study attracting 20 per cent of the assessment, could limit the opportunity for the candidates to display their understanding and could thus act to the detriment of the more able. The same features were evident, although to a lesser extent, in 3. On the other hand, the increased stress on reading common to all three studies will certainly have militated against the less able. Both these factors emphasise the importance of further investigation of techniques on the lines of the now discontinued scheme 3.

112. No clear picture emerges of the balance between the external examination and internal assessment (of course work or project, with the possibility of oral examination). Originally all three studies included project work, but of the two continuing beyond 1975, 1 found it necessary to replace the project with a 'prepared essay'. The consortium nevertheless indicated disquiet at this development, as the prepared essay and the tighter time schedule it imposed on candidates seemed likely to handicap the less able candidates for whom the examination was already posing problems. Scheme 3 was sceptical of the value of project work although this may have been a criticism of the standards permitted rather than of the intrinsic value of the technique. In contrast, a closely controlled project of limited length continues to be an essential part of 2. The strength of the case for including a project rests on whether, and the extent to which, it may sample qualities unassessed by other methods, particularly 'affective' qualities such as interest in and attitude to the work; and on whether it can provide additional information to help assess the performance of candidates across the ability range. From this point of view the evidence did not afford a strong case for including the assessment of a project as part of the examination. Further work would be needed to show whether it is a desirable addition to other methods. A similar conclusion may be drawn for oral examining.

The Examination and the Ability Range

113. Both operational schemes 1 and 2 found difficulty in catering for candidates over the ability range under consideration. For example, the 1975 report of the Oxford board on experimental examinations in history and other subjects drew attention to 'the evidence that certain parts of the examinations were too hard for the weaker candidates while the overall demands made failed to stretch those in higher ability ranges'; and to the concern felt about the accuracy of discrimination among candidates at the top end of the ability range.

114. Difficulties relating to the less able are described in a report of 1976 (2): for example 'two apparently contradictory tendencies were noted ... On the one hand there was an improvement in the number of above average scripts, whilst, on the other, there were more very weak candidates.' Schools were evidently entering many candidates for whom this form of examination was inappropriate. Further problems for less able candidates arose from the design of papers, from the degree of reading involved, the need to be familiar with objective tests, to comprehend some multiple choice questions and, in the case of 1, the 4½ hour length of the examination.


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115. Evidence from the studies about the discriminating power of different techniques in relation to the ability range is conflicting. On the one hand, 1 indicates that for testing of knowledge a carefully constructed multiple choice test of adequate length can discriminate over the whole range. A report of 2 concluded that its objective and structured questions 'discriminated fairly well across the whole ability range' and that the special study was similarly effective although the correlation of the results with those of the written papers was low. On the other hand, 3 concluded that overall the multiple choice test and the oral and teacher assessment were less efficient than the written papers in discriminating between candidates.

116. Some of the difficulties of examining across the whole ability range under consideration arose from the fact that the joint examinations all employed papers intended for all candidates (ie they were 'common examinations'). In any extension of the examination consideration should be given to the use of overlapping papers or to a common core paper with alternatives. It is likely that these, or similar approaches, will form a necessary part of a common system of examining in history.

Marking and Grading

117. The instructions to examiners show that considerable thought has been given to detailed schemes and standardisations of marking. The reports of the studies take the view that acceptable distributions of marks were achieved. Differences of view were expressed however in 1 as to whether decisions on grade boundaries for abler candidates were satisfactory. This concern was not echoed in the report on 2, which stated that 'decisions on grade boundaries were reached without undue difficulty'.

Conclusion

118. A common system of examining history at 16+ has been shown to be feasible. The objectives and content of the syllabuses used in the joint examinations were comparable in general to those of existing examinations, although the objectives of one study were narrower than some good existing practice. Candidates were entered over the full ability range now taking O Level and CSE but although the evidence did not show whether candidates at either end of the ability range were represented in proportion, coverage of the ability range may be regarded as sufficient to support the conclusions of this chapter. In the joint examinations examining techniques employed, although used successfully in other subjects, did not prove wholly adequate to meet the demands of assessing the range of ability concerned. Many of the difficulties arose because the schemes adopted a common examination, but the evidence also shows that project work, use of primary sources, oral examining and multiple choice questions all requires careful attention and refinement if they are to be more widely employed. Techniques such as objective tests, structured questions and essay questions are used in both the GCE and CSE examinations, although the degree of difficulty and range of materials differ. There is also some evidence available from a system of examination based on a common syllabus from the Schools Council's 13-16, History Project. It is particularly interesting that in this system one paper concerned with the use of documentary evidence is being reviewed with a view to its introduction as a common paper.


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119. We consider that the following points should guide the further work that would be needed in developing syllabuses and patterns of assessment during the period leading up to the introduction of a common system of examining:

i. alternatives to the common examination should be developed and made available under a common system with consideration given to the use of overlapping papers, or of a common core paper with alternatives;

ii. if projects and oral examining are to be widely employed, arrangements should be made to ensure that further work is undertaken during the preparatory period to overcome the difficulties brought to light in the joint examinations.






[page 40]

CHAPTER 6: GEOGRAPHY

Introduction

120. The last 10 years have seen many changes in the nature of geography and its teaching in schools. These changes have been codified by two Schools Council projects, and have been reflected in alterations to current O Level and CSE examinations. But most syllabuses and schemes of assessment in geography are still being reconsidered in order to accommodate a growing emphasis on principles and ideas in addition to information and basic skills, a widening of aims to cover attitudes, matters of environmental concern and the process of decision making, and an increased use of mathematical techniques in recording and analysing information.

121. Certain problems face examiners in geography under any system of examining. These are examining and moderating fieldwork and extended course work, the development of resource-based questions, including maps, diagrams etc, to test the ability to apply skills and ideas, and the construction of syllabuses including studies of world features at a range of scales from the small to the global.

The Evidence

122. The main evidence reviewed came from the joint examinations. The numbers of candidates involved are tabulated below. Further reference to the examinations is made by number.

Table 5

No. of candidates
Consortium19731974197519761977
1. ALSEB/JMB/NWREB
    (NWREB until 1975;
    YREB from 1976;
    TWYLREB from 1977)
-2,3182,5443,8075,550
2. LONDON/YREB-986880--
3. WJEC3104714929963,680
4. CAMBRlDGE/EAEB1,1041,4992,1681,8206,341
5. CAMBRlDGE/SWEB--193200225

The Ability Range

123. The full range of ability under consideration was covered in two of the major joint examinations. Scheme 1 in 1974 and 1975 included a wide range of schools and colleges of further education, and it was noted that 'the results of NFER Test 100 indicate that the entry covered the full range of ability under consideration; in particular there appears to be no lack of high ability candidates'. The range of ability also extended below the 40th percentile. In scheme 3 there was a full range of ability of candidates in 1973 and 1974, and there is some evidence that in subsequent years a larger proportion of more able pupils entered.


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The Syllabus and Objectives

124. The syllabuses do not state the objectives or outline the content as explicitly as would have been desirable. The syllabuses used in all four feasibility studies were representative of syllabuses at the time but not of the best now available. Teachers stated that the syllabuses in 1 and 3 provided a basis for more advanced work. In our opinion they provided a basis for the traditional A Level work found in many schools at that time, though there have been changes in several A Level syllabuses during the past three years.

125. The syllabus introduced by consortium 1 for 1978 is much more in line with current thinking in the subject. There are three sections on the local region, the British Isles and the world, and for each area the programme of work is required to illustrate the many ideas of a range of systematic topics such as population and transport. A fieldwork section requires the candidates to study one or more topics at a detailed level and at first hand. The syllabus describes the skills which will be tested in the examination. The consortium recognised that an alternative syllabus might have the regional elements included in a systematic framework. They considered that the relatively small part played by physical geography in the syllabus did not prevent the course from providing a good basis for advanced work.

The Syllabus and the Examination

126. The relationship between the examination and the syllabus has been clearly thought out in 1. All questions are compulsory and ensure coverage of the major aspects of the syllabus. There is a sound balance between the testing of knowledge, comprehension and application. The relationships between examinations and syllabuses in 2 and 3 are less well developed. In 2 there is again no choice of question, but only a selection from the syllabus is covered. In 3 there is an emphasis on ordnance survey work and a choice between questions.

127. The range of question types in 1 is carefully planned and provides for course work. There are the three types of objective questions (1) designed to test a specific and limited range of skills and to ensure complete coverage of the syllabus; structured questions which allow development of other skills; and the more open fieldwork element which gives the pupil the opportunity of developing an idea in depth. This last school-assessed unit of the examination worked well because of the support given to teachers and the care exercised in moderation. However, course work in 2 raised several problems although it supported the need to capitalise on the teachers' order of merit in the overall assessment. An element of school-assessed work is important in an examination of geography at this level.

The Examination and the Ability Range

128. The wide range of ability covered by the joint examinations does not appear to create major problems in the setting of most aspects of the examination, certainly in relation to objective questions and fieldwork. The main difficulty arose from the need to use structured questions. The Schools Council had indicated that in the major studies the structured questions tended to restrict

(1) Multiple choice, multiple completion, matching pairs.


[page 42]

the scope for the abler candidates whose marks were depressed. A low mean and poor use of the upper end of the mark scale were found in three of the studies. This is illustrated by the less satisfactory distribution of marks for this section in recent examinations in 1. There is, however, some evidence from the Schools Council 14-18 Project examinations at O Level that increased use of 'data response questions' could help in assessing higher skills in geography and thus in awarding grades to the most able pupils; these were not tried in the studies. The need for essay-type questions for the more able pupils has been discussed. The examiners of 1 claim that these skills are in fact tested in some structured questions which allow for extended prose answers. But these are shorter than traditional essay answers and we retain reservations about this. Scheme 4 adopted a pattern of differentiated papers, with a common paper and school assessed unit of work. The results of the differentiated papers raised some problems of comparability which were not fully resolved.

129. The presentation of question papers was in general good and appears equally helpful to all candidates. The papers with no element of choice are easier for candidates to work through and are much cheaper to produce, an important consideration when a wide range of recorded information is needed on the examination paper. Each type of question is expensive in different ways. The objective questions are costly to formulate and test before use, but a bank can be developed over several years. Three hours is the maximum desirable length of an examination in geography at this stage.

Marking and Grading

130. Marking and grading were considered with specific reference to 1. There is a clear attempt to see all candidates as part of a single continuum of ability. Marking is positive throughout and guidance is given to pupils and teachers on the distribution of marks for the different elements of the examination. In the case of the structured questions, as mentioned above, marking is less satisfactory. The material provided to help teacher assessment is helpful; there was a steady improvement in the quality of the teacher-assessed work during the years of the trial. Moderation is effective and valued by both the examining boards and the. schools. There is advantage in personal rather than statistical moderation of any discrepancies between different parts of the examination.

Conclusion

131. The evidence shows that it is feasible to examine in geography at 16+ across the ability range under consideration. One study shows this is possible by means of a common examination. It is important to remember the relationship between any examination system and the course of study. The examination must discriminate adequately, but it should not preclude development of work for the more able pupils or for those with particular needs. Similar syllabuses can be examined by two different examinations and some concerned with geography teaching consider this pattern to be more desirable because of its beneficial effects on teaching in schools. If this is accepted the available evidence suggests that the differentiated papers would be those including the structured choice/data response questions. The papers which include the objective questions, individual studies/fieldwork (and course work if this were included) could remain common to all.


[page 43]

132. A number of questions would require further consideration in a preparatory period:

a. There have been marked developments in the nature of many syllabuses for O Level or CSE in geography. It is increasingly common for certain elements, such as the study of regions from the local to the global, ideas or concepts, a range of systematic topics and a variety of skills, to be included in any examination of geography at 16+. The arrangement of these elements might vary, so that syllabuses could have a systematic or a regional structure; and the amount of physical geography included could vary between syllabuses.

b. The fieldwork or individual study element was shown to be valuable. There is much evidence available to teachers and boards from the joint and other examinations about the value of careful structuring of studies and moderation of the assessment.

c. Course work was assessed in only one of the examinations and did not prove satisfactory. However, there is evidence from other examinations that guided and moderated teacher assessment of specified units of work during the two years of study can be very valuable. Opinion is stronger on the value of fieldwork/individual study, although it is claimed that particular skills can only be assessed by course work assessment and that it can allow useful flexibility within a syllabus.

d. The examination should include objective questions of a limited range of types, structured questions especially of the data response type, and fieldwork/individual studies. The lack of choice of questions and the expectation that the whole syllabus will be studied (as shown in scheme 1) appears to be very desirable.





[page 44]

CHAPTER 7: MODERN LANGUAGES

Introduction

133. Foreign language learning concerns above all the ability to communicate - to convey and receive information, ideas and feelings through the spoken or written word. This process has traditionally required cumulative experience of the language over four or five years in the case of the first foreign language (usually French) and two to four years in the case of the second (usually German, Spanish, Italian or Russian). The study of a second foreign language is normally undertaken by students of a narrower and higher range of ability than the first so that a comparable standard can be achieved within a shorter learning period.

134. At present nearly all pupils (90 - 95 per cent) study a foreign language between the ages of 11 and 14 but comparatively few (about a third) continue after that. There is thus a very high drop-out rate at the option stage and candidates preparing for public examinations in modern languages at 16+ come almost entirely from the 100th to the 60th percentile of the ability range. Pressures for more effective language teaching may lead eventually to a widening of the ability range covered. The joint examinations have therefore been considered in terms of both the present position and possible future demand.

135. Current thinking on teaching methods varies the emphasis given to each of the four skills involved - listening, speaking, reading and writing - according to the ability of the pupil. For the less able pupils this implies greater emphasis on listening to and speaking the foreign language, and less on reading and writing it. For the abler pupils, however, considerable ability in all four skills is expected. It follows that the examination process needs to test the four skills separately and to take account of the different teaching goals for pupils of different ability.

The Evidence

136. Seven schemes have been offered in the joint examinations, five in French and two in German. The following table shows the numbers of candidates taking each examination:

Table 6

No. of candidates
Consortium1974197519761977
FRENCH
1. AEB/MREB*/MlDDLESEX1,1341,1051,2261,181
2. ALSEB/JMB/TWYLREB/YREB
    (originally ALSEB/JMB/NWREB)
1,6882,5354,3996,389
3. CAMBRIDGE/SWEB-181204204
4, LONDON/YREB444250--
5. OXFORD/SREB1,2481,396833149 SREB†
273 OXFORD
GERMAN
6. CAMBRlDGE/EAEB-730777887
7. WJEC-305521743

†Separate examinations from 1977.

*MREB left the consortium after 1975.


[page 45]

Of these, consortium 4 ceased to function in 1975 but much of its work was absorbed into consortium 2. Other evidence came from meetings with subject interests and with two of the consortia (2 and 7). Further reference to the consortia is made by number as indicated. Papers were also received from a CAMBRIDGE/EAEB Mode III examination in French which had 749 entries in 1976 and 845 in 1977.

The Ability Range

137. The entry for some schemes did not appear accurately to represent the spread of ability seen in O Level and CSE examinations. The entries for schemes 2 and 4 had too few lower ability pupils, whilst that for 1 had too few high ability candidates initially; this was rectified subsequently. Scheme 5 appeared to have achieved a sample and spread typical of the normal pattern; 6 and 7 sought to ensure the full ability range, although as the subject is German it is unlikely that the lower end is represented.

138. Since the early joint examinations there has been a substantial increase in the entries to 2 and, in percentage terms, to 7. However, there is evidence that ending the requirement to enter all candidates from a school has distorted the pattern of entry. Several schools have entered their abler candidates for O Level examinations while others appear to have reverted to CSE Mode III examinations (sometimes with limited grades) for the weaker candidates. Taken overall, however, the studies involved sufficient candidates over the range of ability taking O Level and CSE examinations to provide a basis for judgement as to feasibility in French and German. We consider that these two subjects may be taken as sufficient indication for other modern languages.

The Syllabus and Objectives

139. In all cases the objectives were worthwhile, although with five of the consortia they had to be inferred from the form and content of the examination. Two consortia (2 and 4) gave a precise definition of what was to be examined in terms of vocabulary lists and grammatical structures, stating that any deviation would be limited to non-key items for comprehension and would not exceed 5 per cent of the paper. Other studies gave more general definitions of what was required, and encouraged or gave teachers scope to go beyond the syllabus. The consortia which defined a syllabus strictly (2 and 4) or in clear outline (3, 5 and 7) provided a useful service, although modifications would be required before the schemes provided adequately for the ablest and weakest candidates. Of particular benefit has been the re-evaluation of mark apportionment to the various skills, the improved status given to oral work being especially welcome.

140. Schemes 1 to 6 offer a common examination to their candidates with only limited scope for choosing questions, eg choice of picture for oral tests, choice of composition topics. Scheme 7 is alone in offering a choice of exercises with a marking tariff based on their notional difficulty: a reading comprehension carries 10 marks; the same passage translated into English carries 16; three reading comprehension passages (one compulsory and one optional) carry 14 or 10 marks depending on the optional passage chosen; a listening comprehension test carries 16 marks if answered in German, 10 marks if in English.


[page 46]

141. Some very worthwhile work has been initiated in syllabus definition. But it has not reflected any differentiation of objectives for various groups of pupils. The consortia all inclined towards giving equal treatment to the four language skills, without suggesting the need for different levels or types of performance for pupils of differing abilities. If these studies were taken as the model the most able pupils would not receive an adequate grounding for their A Level studies; whilst excessive demands would be made on the least able candidates.

The Syllabus and the Examination

142. The patterns of assessment used by the consortia reflected a similar uniformity in the weighting of the four skills, thus implying parity between them. This may be entirely logical in the context of the syllabuses developed, but leaves unsolved the problems of catering for the varying needs of pupils of different abilities, and of reflecting accurately their relative attainments in the final assessment.

143. The approaches of the consortia are, however, instructive. Many of the shortcomings that came to light could be avoided: eg failure to define the vocabulary required even though much of the examination is in effect a test of vocabulary; uncertainties about what is being tested, particularly in listening comprehension tests; and the failure to give clear instructions to candidates particularly important in the differentiated form of examination operated by consortium 7. Another initial problem in 7 was the tendency revealed for strong candidates to choose easy options for safety, whilst weaker ones were attracted to the more taxing parts because of higher mark tariff; fortunately this practice has abated recently as the format has become familiar and teachers have offered better guidance.

144. There are major differences between the joint examinations and the present system. Most current GCE and CSE examinations include translation into English; GCE also often includes translation into the foreign language. Only two of the consortia examinations included translation into English and none included translation from English. Again, dictation is a feature of most GCE and some CSE examinations, but appeared only in one of the joint examinations. Such differences highlight the difficulty of seeing the joint examinations as offering a suitable grounding for potential A Level students, given the present form of A Level examinations in French and German.

145. The assessment techniques were generally sound. Oral examinations were very effective, despite difficulties of co-ordination and comparability. This aspect of examining is worth the extra marks it now generally receives. Multiple choice questions were another useful feature. They were used by most consortia to test both reading and listening comprehension, and although not all multiple choice questions were well devised a valuable effect of such questions at their best was to help clarify thinking on what was being tested. Only one scheme included written coursework as an element of assessment. Consortium 4 initially invited teachers to assess all four skills three times a year, but this was found to be too time-consuming. It is, however, a technique of potentially great interest. Teachers now contribute to a major extent in the administration of the oral examination. Some consortia moderate the orals, and some mark them.


[page 47]

The Examination and the Ability Range

146. Much has been said above about the deficiencies of the joint examinations in providing for the whole ability range. The middle of the range currently examined by the dual system seems well catered for by the joint examinations. The problems arise in relation to the two ends, and it is worth emphasising that they are chiefly related to the need to cover a large number of components if pupils of all abilities are to be properly tested and stimulated to give of their best. None of the consortia examinations provided suitable stimuli for all their candidates. The most able needed to have more demands placed on them, particularly in areas calling for intellectual stamina: sustained reading, writing and listening. Too much on the other hand was often asked of the weaker pupils; with over-concentration on writing and on certain comprehension passages.

147. The basic problem was recognised and solutions were sought. Two consortia considered setting additional papers, but rejected the approach because it called for differentiated teaching. Another possible approach is to set questions on an incline of difficulty; but inevitably the weaker candidates would have the unfortunate experience of finding a substantial part of the examination inaccessible to them. Something akin to the tariff system operated by 7 (see paragraph 140) may be more promising, although certain practical difficulties have not yet been overcome, for example the fact that in the examination the less able can earn a higher percentage of their marks for productive skills than can the more able. There is reason to believe that these problems could be overcome.

Marking and Grading

148. The varied marking procedures used in the joint examinations appeared to be satisfactory, although a greater degree of uniformity from year to year would help teachers, particularly where credit marks are given for the knowledge and use of vocabulary and structure outside the designed syllabus. The publication of mark schemes, or at least of criteria, would aid teachers greatly and contribute to specifying levels of expectation. A particular difficulty was to make a sufficiently wide range of marks available to allow adequate discrimination of the most and the least able. In two schemes ways were being explored of giving credit to quite modest performance in composition if the candidate had succeeded in conveying meaning even without linguistic accuracy. Unfortunately some of the chief examiners' reports displayed a negative attitude, stressing general defects without attempting to differentiate various levels of performance.

Conclusion

149. For the reasons given above, the joint examinations do not of themselves justify a statement that feasibility has been proved except in oral testing. But they do provide sufficient evidence to support the belief that if certain requirements are met a common examining system in modern languages is feasible. The overall requirement must be that the system should provide adequately for the most able and the least able, as well as the middle of the ability range. The joint examinations have shown that a common examination does not satisfy this requirement and would not provide for candidates at either end of the range to show their capabilities.


[page 48]

150. It would be essential to adopt a differentiated approach to teaching and 3 examining. The evidence from the studies of such a pattern of examining (consortium 7) is less than conclusive partly because the differentiation was slender, partly because the range of ability covered was probably narrower than should be assumed for normal purposes, and partly because numbers were small. Nevertheless, there seems no reason why a sound differentiated approach should not be developed, and existing experience from within the dual system suggests that it could. Different objectives would need to be delineated: oral testing could be common; some elements in listening and reading comprehension might be common, others would need to be differentiated; written elements would certainly need to be differentiated, with writing in the foreign language perhaps omitted for those for whom this would be inappropriate. The potential offered by school-based assessment would need to be further developed.

151. It is reasonable to suppose that a common grading scheme could be applied to such a system, although it may be necessary to award limited grades in the examinations with the highest grades being available only to those candidates who have performed well in all four skills; for example, the candidates who, on the evidence of the joint examinations, find the writing of French a major stumbling-block might nevertheless receive a relatively high grade for good performance in speaking and in understanding the spoken and written word. A good deal more work would be needed, however, in the period preparatory to the introduction of a common system, and a beneficial side-effect of such work might be the extension in due course of the ability range studying, modern languages.



[page 49]

CHAPTER 8: CLASSICS

Introduction

152. Traditionally the study of classics at least up to the age of 16 was equated with the learning of the Latin and/or Greek languages and the emphasis at this stage was on the acquisition of accidence and syntax. Whilst Greek has shown little change from this position, in Latin there has been a considerable modification of objectives since the early 1960s. The skill of composing in Latin at this stage has assumed at best a minor importance. Some courses treat the study of grammar and syntax as subordinate to their main objectives, which are the reading and comprehension of continuous Latin and a knowledge of Roman public affairs and social life in the first century AD. In addition the late 1960s saw the development of classical studies courses for a wider range of ability, which do not rely on the study of a classical language and which are often offered as an alternative to it in schools.

153. Examinations have reflected these developments both in the Latin language and in classical studies. Nevertheless Latin has not appreciably changed from its position as a study for pupils of well above average ability. Since the principal justification for teaching the Latin language is to give access to Latin literature, a very heavy emphasis must still be placed on literate skills and complex verbal comprehension. Most people would therefore accept that it is neither desirable nor possible in any worthwhile way to set a Latin language paper which would be suitable for all pupils down to the 40th percentile. This limitation does not apply to examinations in classical studies which are seen, less reasonably and to a diminishing degree, to be the province of the average pupil. A common system would therefore need to include elements both of Latin (and Greek) languages and of classical studies, despite the problems of comparability which inevitably arise.

The Evidence

154. The two joint examinations listed below provide the main evidence for the analysis and conclusions which follow. The first of these examinations offered separately Latin, classical studies and Latin with classical studies; the second offered classical studies only with no language element. They are subsequently referred to by number.

Table 7

No. of candidates
Consortium1974197519761977
1. TWYLREB/JMB
A. Latin8289551,0271,000
B. Classical studies252424582658
C. Latin with Classical studies154239198260
2. OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE/MIDDLESEX
Classical studies-247304379

Consultative meetings were held with subject associations and the TWYLREB/JMB consortium although informal contacts have been maintained with Oxford and Cambridge/Middlesex.


[page 50]

The Ability Range

155. The conclusion is unmistakable that the ability range entering for both examinations has been skewed markedly towards the higher levels and, except in the classical studies option of 1, the number of candidates of O Level grade A-C potential appears to be around 75 per cent in both examinations. The classical studies examination of 1 shows a slightly different position, but still some 60 per cent of the candidates reach O Level grades A-C. In 1977, however, the lower ability ranges seemed to be more adequately represented in both the classical studies and the Latin with classical studies sections of 1. It must be said, therefore, that neither examination attracted a fully representative sample of candidates down to the 40th percentile of ability. Nevertheless both examinations discriminated sufficiently between candidates to place some in each of the grades so that judgement is possible.

The Syllabus and Objectives

156. A system for examining classics must provide for the examination of Latin and Greek. However, this part of the syllabus and objectives of an examination is likely to be unsuitable for a sizeable section of the ability range, although there appears to be no conclusive evidence about the cut-off point. One is left therefore with the conclusion that a common system should provide for the examination of both classical studies and classical languages. The best solution so far offered appears to be the arrangement of optional elements as in 1. By omitting the classical languages 2 does not provide evidence in this matter.

157. General satisfaction has been expressed with the objectives of 1, although there is some reservation about the capabilities of 16 year old pupils for appreciating the influences of the Greeks and Romans on the culture of Western Europe. Both the traditional and more recent approaches to the teaching of the classical languages are consistent with an examination objective of the sort provided by 1. The provision of a comprehensive word list in paper 1 has been seen by some as undermining one of the disciplines essential to undertaking more advanced work in the language. It was intended to obviate difficulties caused by the widely varied sources of vocabulary which candidates have encountered in their courses. It could reasonably be argued that this caters for a definite, albeit intermediate, skill. In any case candidates who look up every word are likely to be heavily penalised through running out of time. It would seem fair to conclude that 1 appears to lead satisfactorily into more advanced work in Latin. The objectives of 2 are not specified but as inferred from the syllabus they appear unexceptionable. Both 1 and 2 appear to provide a satisfactory basis for advanced work in classical studies. Both examinations reflect quite closely the content and the objectives of existing examinations, particularly at O Level.

The Syllabus and the Examination

158. In general the examinations seemed to relate reasonably well to the syllabus and objectives. Several of the objectives of 1 are difficult to examine, for example understanding and appreciation of the achievements of Greeks and Romans, the influences of these people on Western European culture and the ability of the candidate to express himself imaginatively using themes and ideas from the classics. It is interesting to note that for 1979 questions may be set requiring the candidate's response to photographs of sites and artefacts.


[page 51]

159. It might well be that the realisation of these objectives could be more satisfactorily achieved if course work were included in the overall assessment. Neither examination includes provision for course work as such although each provides for an optional project carrying 25 per cent of the marks in the case of 1 and 50 per cent of the marks in the case of 2. These proportions probably represent the realistic boundaries of the credit to be given for a project element. Some difficulty has been found in comparability as between the project and externally assessed elements in 2. Though the problems of administration and particularly of moderation related to course work are not to be minimised some development work would be helpful in identifying problems and investigating possible solutions.

The Examination and the Ability Range

160. For the reasons given earlier it may well be both unnecessary and undesirable for a common system of examining to provide an examination in the Latin language down to the 40th percentile. It is worthwhile noting that CSE examinations in Latin language have encountered difficulties even though they appear to cater only for the upper half of the CSE range of ability. In classical studies on the other hand a common system could be expected to cater for the same range of abilities as is envisaged for the system as a whole. The mixed-package type of syllabus and examination to be seen in 1 appears to offer the best prospect of catering adequately for a wide range of abilities and of interests, allowing pupils to select, or be guided towards, Latin or classical studies or a variety of possible combinations of the two. Through its various permitted alternatives 1 offers 14 such possibilities.

161. As regards Latin, the provision in 1 for an extended range of ability takes three principal forms: the full word list supplied with paper 1; the multiple choice comprehension exercise; and the inclusion in paper 2, along with questions of GCE standard, of other questions deliberately designed to allow less able candidates to demonstrate their degree of comprehension and appreciation of the set texts. The distribution of raw marks suggests that satisfactory discrimination could be achieved among pupils of somewhat lower ability than have actually attempted the examinations so far. At the same time it appears that 'bunching' of the more able candidates has been avoided. In classical studies the two consortia adopted different approaches to the problems of catering for a wide range of abilities. In 1, 60 per cent of the marks were awarded for factual knowledge whilst the remaining 40 per cent required judgement and appreciation supported by fact. Mark distributions suggest that satisfactory discrimination was achieved throughout the ability range. In 2, candidates could avoid questions requiring judgement and appreciation by attempting factual answers on a wider range of topics. This 'tariff' provision, introduced for the benefit of weaker candidates, appears to have encouraged the better candidates also to attempt a large number of the easier factual questions rather than the more difficult parts requiring judgement and appreciation. Abler candidates, whilst not giving evidence of their capacity to judge and appreciate, might have earned marks well in excess of 100 per cent. In 1977, because of its failure to discriminate among the able candidates, the rubric was amended to prohibit candidates from attempting parts drawn from more than seven questions.


[page 52]

162. Apart from the 'tariff' scheme the examining techniques used are largely, traditional. Scheme 1 contains one multiple choice section which carries 10 per cent of the marks. Some feel that it is inappropriate because, in a heavily inflected language, the alternative 'answers' can mislead much more readily. The only other feature which could be called unorthodox is the project, which raises some questions of comparability; however, this technique is nowadays a common one in examining. The layout of the papers is conventional in character although somewhat complicated, and likely to cause difficulty for able and less literate candidates who had not been adequately prepared.

163. In both examinations the marking is positive and tries to see all candidates as part of a single continuum of ability. Apart from the difficulties that the 'tariff' technique in 2 raised for discrimination, candidates appear to be adequately and appropriately rewarded at all levels of ability.

Extension

164. There would seem to be no particular difficulty in scaling up an examination in the style of 1 or 2 to cater for numbers currently taking O Level and CSE examinations in Latin and in classical studies. Arrangements to moderate projects would presumably cause most difficulty, but this seems to have been overcome in other examinations with considerably larger numbers of candidates. Greater numbers could be accommodated by a combination of teacher assessment and external moderation.

165. The best prospects of overcoming the dichotomy between language and classical studies seem to lie in the adoption of a joint course with common ground which would be possible for those following a Latin with classical studies component. It is surprising that in 1 this component has been substantially less used than the other two, a situation which perhaps reflects the extent to which the dichotomy is still uncritically accepted as inevitable. Furthermore, it would appear necessary to delineate more clearly what is represented by the term 'classical studies'.

166. There is strong support for the view that provision must exist in the national system for the examining of Greek at 16+ and that, whatever administrative units may in the future be set up, at least one should be found ready and willing to offer this service to schools nationwide. The working party conducting 1 saw no difficulty in catering for Greek within the 'mixed-package' system which they are at present operating.

Conclusion

167. A common system of examining in classics must provide for classical languages and for classical studies. Special provision may need to be made for Greek. It is generally agreed that Latin has not yet proved examinable down to the 40th percentile of ability although classical studies has. The best solution so far available seems therefore to be a system of optional elements embracing language study and classical studies either separately or in combination. Such a system does offer feasibility and discrimination over an ability range down to the 40th percentile. It may be of advantage to investigate a closer relating of the content of the language and classical studies elements particularly in papers of the Latin with classical studies kind offered by scheme 1. Some further development work should be undertaken also aimed at broadening the scope of the assessment techniques in use.


[page 53]

CHAPTER 9: COMMERCE

Introduction

168. Commerce as a school subject helps to prepare pupils to become participating members of society by enabling them to understand its institutions and the patterns of its economic activity. As such it involves description and analysis, often of a numerical nature, calls for powers of reasoning, logical thought and decision making, and makes an important contribution to preparing pupils for their future roles as producers, consumers, wage earners, tax payers, householders and citizens. Pupils of all abilities may successfully engage in the study of commerce at their different levels of understanding; the subject matter is directly related to the world beyond school and they find it the more helpful in that they are enabled to see their personal involvement in society.

169. Students of commerce in schools are at present drawn principally from the middle and lower ability ranges. Although there is some evidence to suggest that abler pupils are starting to take the subject the increase, above all since the raising of the school leaving age, is mostly in the lower bands of ability, particularly where it is studied in conjunction with office skills and practice.

The Evidence

170. The above pattern is reflected in the entries and grades awarded in the one joint examination in commerce mounted by the West Midlands Examinations Board and the Joint Matriculation Board. There were sufficient candidates of all abilities to enable a firm conclusion as to feasibility to be made.

Table 8

No. of candidates
Consortium1974197519761977
WMEB/JMB1,7301,8282,2713,128

This examination forms the main evidence for our conclusion. Discussions were also held with the consortium and with subject interests.

The Syllabus and Objectives

171. The aims, objectives and syllabus are fully worthwhile and potentially offer an important contribution to the personal and academic development of pupils of all abilities. The objectives also envisage a personal approach to the course which gives it unity. The time-consuming use of business documents detracts somewhat from this approach and probably requires less weighting in the overall balance of components. Aims and objectives provide a good foundation for further study, for example in A Level economics or business studies. The same can be said of the syllabus except that it tends to be stated too baldly in terms of factual knowledge without guidance as to the possible development of topics.


[page 54]

The Syllabus and the Examination

172. All questions on the two papers are compulsory. The papers tend to place less emphasis on application and expression than might be inferred from the objectives. The balance of forms of assessment is adequate and appropriate; the use of course work assessment offers the important possibility of testing awareness of local experience. Further development could profitably include oral assessment (a technique discussed but not pursued) to give opportunity for less able candidates to show their grasp; the addition of project work might enable abler candidates to develop their skills even more fully.

173. Less able candidates might have some difficulty in coping with the language of the rubric and questions, although this is a difficulty shared by CSE examinations in commerce; it is a necessary test of literacy. Some teachers have also complained of the element of numeracy required in the understanding of charts and statistics. Commerce can play an important part in strengthening numeracy, and it is in its proper and necessary proportion in this examination. Paper 1 offers very clear objective questions which appear to have been well prepared; they offer necessary 'peaks of difficulty' (for example, in the assertion/reason section) and provide good discrimination. Paper 2 has the merit of wide syllabus coverage and, in not permitting 'question-spotting', promotes depth of teaching across the whole syllabus. Where, as suggested earlier, there is an emphasis on factual recall abler pupils are not stretched; there is need, for instance, for an essay question to assess their ability to marshal argument and for more questions testing analysis and application and the interrelationships of the elements of commerce. Paper 2 could usefully be extended in length to accommodate this. On the evidence of the mark schemes seen, marking is positive and does not cause bunching. The individual papers and the examination as a whole have achieved very good discrimination.

174. There appear to be no obstacles to the expansion of this type of examination as it stands. It has been favourably received by teachers whose criticisms have been taken into account by the examiners, although no major modifications have been necessary. It is worth emphasising that the traditional format of examinations in commerce (for example, choice of 5 from 10 essay questions) is now being modified; this examination reflects such a change. If there were to be any modification which would bring in, for example, oral assessment, the need for in-service training and moderation procedures would increase the cost and administrative burden. The extension of moderation of course work assessment would also add to this factor. There is no reason to suppose that these problems could not be overcome.

Conclusion

175. The joint examination in commerce has provided four years' valuable experience of examining over a wide ability range an increasing number of candidates. The problems it has raised are of a technical nature and do not appear difficult to solve. Although the evidence from a single joint examination is restricted, it points clearly towards the feasibility of a common system of examining in commerce. It suggests also that a common examination can provide adequately for the ability range at present represented by the field for this subject, as well as for some extension of this range in the future, possibly to include a larger number of abler candidates.


[page 55]

CHAPTER 10: SOCIAL SCIENCE

Introduction

176. There is not yet any agreement as to the exact nature and status of social science in secondary schools; it is generally perceived as sociology with smaller amounts of economics, politics and, more rarely, psychology and anthropology. There is also an ill-defined 'social studies' area, usually meaning social sciences for less able pupils. Whilst courses in social science are helpful in enabling young people to gain an objective and serious view of society and social change it may be doubted whether the partial and limited application of the term 'social science' which, for example, omits historical and geographical treatment of social analysis, represents a sufficiently broad view of this comparatively new subject.

The Evidence

177. One joint examination only was mounted in social science and operated in 1975 and 1976. From 1977 it was replaced by two Mode II examinations operated separately under the same syllabus by the two boards concerned - the Associated Examining Board and the Metropolitan Regional Examining Board.

Table 9

No. of candidates
Consortium19751976
AEB/MREB370602

It will be seen that the joint examination attracted relatively few entries; in particular there was an absence of abler pupils and especially of those within the top ten percentiles of the ability range. This reflects the national pattern at present in O Level and CSE courses in social science.

The Syllabus and Objectives

178. The aims, objectives and syllabus constitute a useful attempt to help young people to take a serious and analytical view of society. The limitations of this view as expressed in the syllabus, which was newly developed for the purpose of this examination, reflect the uncertain nature of the subject as it stands in the school curriculum. This examination is really concerned with sociology in its traditional sense, with a useful but strictly limited glance at some other social sciences. The aims and objectives state: 'students should have an understanding of certain sociological, psychological, economic and political concepts'. These aims are too imprecise, given the immense range of concepts in these subjects, and further guidance is necessary.

179. Of the ten major areas of study six, or perhaps seven, could be called sociological; two cover economic matters; one is political. Psychology and anthropology have little place. Economic matters are played down or tacked on as a separate component whereas they are fundamental to many social phenomena. Political issues and their resolution have an unimportant place. There is a seeming omission of historical and geographical perspectives and cross reference, although by implication in the examination they suffuse the course;


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for example, the topics 'technological change and its consequences' and 'the changing role of the family', are matters of historical as well as sociological analysis. These difficulties are not peculiar to this examination but are common to many social science courses and they arise from arbitrary selection of content. This syllabus stands up quite well as an introduction to simple sociology and it would serve as a suitable basis for further work in the social sciences; an economist or psychologist would, however, need more grounding than it offers.

The Syllabus and the Examination

180. The syllabus envisages a progressive understanding of concepts related to the range of ability. This is a welcome feature, as is the emphasis placed upon developing skills rather than learning about society as a set of objective facts. The syllabus seems to imply that there are certain areas of content essential for a proper understanding of society (industry and the economy, minority groups, government expenditure, housing). It does not make clear that certain basic data are essential. It is to be noted also that the topics mentioned above lie in the non-sociological sections of the syllabus. Nevertheless, the inclusion of the skills described is to be welcomed. In this respect the syllabus is comparable with some O Level and CSE syllabuses; indeed it is more helpful than the traditional sociology syllabus, although less full than current CSE social studies courses. From the papers seen there is no doubt that the examination does, as stated in the syllabus, test knowledge and understanding and the attainment of the declared objectives. The implication in the questions that historical and geographical knowledge will be required of the candidate points to an omission in the syllabus.

The Examination and the Ability Range

181. Less able pupils might find some aspects of the papers daunting: the construction of questionnaires; the complicated design of the question paper (modified in 1976); the wording of some of the questions and the complexity of some of the concepts underlying the economics section. The minor studies section, including a course work element, needs to have clearer definition in terms of aims, appropriate tasks and length, so that teachers and pupils can know what is required and the precise nature of the contribution that this section makes to the total assessment.

Extension

182. The treatment of course work and project assessment (both are included and amount to 40 per cent of the total) is the only aspect which might give rise to difficulties if the examination were to be extended to the numbers at present taking GCE and CSE. Much paperwork is involved and the moderation of course work and of project work might be expensive. But these logistical problems should be capable of solution.

Conclusion

183. It would be rash to base firm or far-reaching conclusions on the results of a single joint examination taken by only a few hundred candidates in which the full ability range was not proportionately represented. But in any case it would not be reasonable to expect more than tentative conclusions in relation to a subject which is still in an early and, in some ways, uncertain stage of development in the schools. What form of common examining system will in future be found to be most appropriate must depend, to an important degree, on the way in which the subject develops in schools, both as taught and as examined.


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CHAPTER 11: RELIGIOUS STUDIES

Introduction

184. Courses in religious studies deal generally with the nature of religious experience and its relationship to codes of behaviour and contemporary life as well as aspects of doctrine and ritual. They usually centre on the study of one religion. Present practice in schools and current examination syllabuses suggest that they are firmly placed within the Christian framework and include a knowledge of the life of Christ based on the study of one of the Gospels, usually with reference to the Old Testament and with varying emphasis on exegesis and cross-reference to history, myth and symbol. In recent years there has been increasing reference to other world religions. In examination syllabuses these usually appear as optional sections, special studies or as the subject of project or course work assessment.

185. This range of activities demands the development of skills, some of which are closely associated with other subject areas and which may be relatively easy or very difficult to analyse and develop. It is important that some of the more difficult aspects, such as understanding the theology and appreciating the ethical code of a religion, are included in any religious studies course at 16+.

The Evidence

186. The evidence available was derived from one feasibility study and from discussions with the consortium and subject interests.

Table 10

No. of candidates
Consortium19751976
MREB/SUJB/MIDDLESEX985559

The Ability Range

187. The feasibility study was designed for pupils from the 40th percentile to the most able. Results of the NFER Test 100 indicated that this range of ability was present for the 1975 examination although this test and the grades awarded suggest that the entry was skewed towards the middle and lower ability groups.

The Syllabus and Objectives

188. The syllabus was formed by amalgamating and selecting from three existing syllabuses. It offered the possibility of study of the various aspects mentioned in paragraph 184, but stayed exclusively within the Judaeo-Christian framework. Within these limits, however, there is a fair sampling of topics; more scope might have been given for exegesis.

The Syllabus and the Examination

189. The examination is a good reflection of the syllabus in the range of topics on which questions are set. However, there is a discernible emphasis on the


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historical narrative and simple ethics sections of religious studies and a relative neglect of some of the more difficult elements. The emphasis on recapitulation of stories and the lack of demand for speculative thought, philosophical insight and other more demanding skills are not a good reflection of the range of ability the syllabus is designed to serve.

The Examination and the Ability Range

190. The papers appear to have been carefully composed so that the rubrics and wording of the questions were easily understood by the least able pupils for whom the examination was designed. The use of Bibles during the examination was permitted but naturally placed a heavier burden of reading on some pupils, who would find difficulty in coping with it. The written paper was the only form of assessment used. Three types of question were used, the compulsory 'short answer' factual questions at the beginning of each paper, a choice of structured questions designed to evoke a variety of response and a choice of long essay topics. The latter were completed only in part by a majority of the candidates, who revealed inability to marshal cogent argument.

191. There was no evidence of scope in the examination for interpretation of events or topics at all the different conceptual levels. This can be illustrated by a topic such as 'the birth of Jesus' which, at its simplest level, is the narrative of the school nativity play with elements of interpretation of an unsophisticated kind, but which for the most able sixteen year old raises further very important questions relating to the idea of the Virgin Birth and its historical, mythical and symbolic significance. This aspect is one which needs development in any single examination designed for the upper 60 per cent of the ability range in religious studies at 16+.

192. It is difficult to be definitive about the degree of discrimination as the numbers for the examination are small. The marked reduction in entries for 1976 may be some indication of dissatisfaction on the part of teachers. The papers set were rather easy, but seem to have been marked strictly and dissatisfaction seems to have occurred over the grades awarded to more able candidates. Certainly there was poor alignment of the grades with teacher estimates.

Conclusion

193. It would be presumptuous to reach a firm conclusion on the evidence of one examination operating over two years with few candidates and very few of high ability. The evidence does show that it is feasible to draw up a common syllabus in religious studies and possible to recognise aspects which can be covered by all candidates, and others which will only be developed fully by the most able pupils. The feasibility study showed the difficulties encountered in the first attempt to organise a single examination for such a syllabus. On the evidence of this examination it would seem that initially the development of differentiated papers within a common system is the most likely means of achieving proper provision for the extremes of the ability range in religious studies. The evidence does not show that a single examination is impossible, only that there were unresolved difficulties in the initial attempt to develop it.


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CHAPTER 12: CRAFT, DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY

Introduction

194. Contemporary syllabuses reflect a move away from the traditional teaching of woodwork and metalwork, although there is still much straightforward teaching of these crafts in schools. The syllabuses have a central aim of giving boys and girls confidence in identifying, studying and solving problems with the use of materials; it is, therefore, generally seen as a necessity that assessment is based on courses making both general and specific demands on all pupils, and encouraging an individual response to unfamiliar situations.

195. This change of emphasis is to be seen in a number of current GCE and CSE syllabuses which incorporate papers requiring individual designing, with less emphasis on timed practical tests and more on teacher assessment of course work.

The Evidence

196. Two joint examinations in craft and design were mounted. Discussions were held with the AEB/TWYLREB consortium and with subject interests. Further reference is made by number.

Table 11

No. of candidates
Consortium1974197519761977
1. AEB/TWYLREB Design and Craft-168302325
84 (Mode III)
2. AEB/SEREB Craftwork (Wood)619428586588

The Ability Range

197. Both consortia considered that the entry to the examinations, although small, was typical of entries to craft subject examinations generally. Candidates of high general ability and girls of all abilities were not fully represented.

The Syllabus and Objectives

198. The aims and objectives of both examinations were clear. Scheme 1 in particular, in reflecting a new approach to course construction and examining, set out a statement of philosophy; this, although challenged in some quarters, was felt to offer adequate guidance to teachers in designing their own syllabuses. Further, the fact that an approach like that of 1 inherently requires individual response meant both that the topical needs of the subject are served and that, with appropriate assessment techniques, there is a proper chance of catering for the common 16+ ability range. Scheme 1 also led naturally into most modern design-based sixth form courses. The art specialists consulted were disappointed by the lack of mention of visual aesthetics or fashion and taste.


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The Examination and the Ability Range

199. It seems that the wide range of ability involved in the joint examinations does not necessarily add to the problems of setting appropriate questions. The most difficult area seems to be that of ensuring that questions are formulated in language which all pupils can understand or, if this is more helpful, through the use of good diagrams or photographs. In this respect there was some doubt about the suitability of the examinations for lower ability pupils. Teacher comment suggests that this group found difficulty in understanding the formal wording of the questions in 1, even though these were designed to be capable of answers at different levels. Scheme 2 was also unlikely to tax very able pupils sufficiently.

200. The assessment methods used were reasonably balanced although the formal testing of knowledge by 1 was underemphasised. Both examinations placed appropriate emphasis on course work, 2 awarding it one third of total marks and 1 one half. In the latter case all the work done by a candidate in the five terms preceding the examination was assessed internally. The remaining marks for 1 were awarded for a design and realisation paper (30 per cent) and a further written paper (20 per cent). Scheme 2 included a practical test piece initially, but this was made optional for 1975.

201. Most teachers felt that the internal assessment was a valuable part of the examination. Some problems did arise in course work assessment: although the guidance to teachers was mostly straightforward it was considered that some aspects could have been more fully covered. All course work assessment was moderated; as numbers were small this proved operationally possible. Alternative techniques might be necessary with larger numbers of candidates.

Marking and Grading

202. The examiners were generally satisfied with each of the examination components and with their capacity to discriminate. There was a clear attempt to see all candidates as part of a continuum of ability.

Conclusion

203. There seems to be no reason why a common examination should not be produced for this area of the curriculum. Although teachers expressed some reservations about the ability of the least able candidates to comprehend fully the range of questions, the problem is capable of solution.

204. Schemes of assessment of the type used in the joint examinations and made up of an appropriate balance of internally and externally assessed elements are demanding of teacher time and effort and are expensive. However, the method is in line with current GCE and CSE work and is necessary for satisfactory assessment in this subject.


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CHAPTER 13: TECHNICAL DRAWING
Introduction

205. Few school courses at present contain the full range of work which might be undertaken in drawing and graphical communication. Most GCE and CSE examinations in this subject remain strongly attached to geometry and mechanical engineering (or building) drawing, which often do not reflect the experiences of pupils either in school workshops or outside the school. Few have widened the opportunities for school study. Most examinations test geometry and engineering drawing by traditional timed tests, and a typical engineering drawing question is likely to make relatively limited demands on an able pupil. However, there has been a slow move by some boards towards introducing short answer questions, more reliance on freehand presentation and assessment of course work.

The Evidence

206. Three joint examinations were undertaken in technical drawing. Discussions were held with the MREB/LONDON consortium and with subject interests. Further reference is made by number.

Table 12

No. of candidates
Consortium19731974197519761977
1. MREB/LONDON
Graphical Communication
-973297--
2. EAEB/CAMBRIDGE
Technical Drawing
7867911,0628152,055
3. JMB/TWYLREB/YREB (Mode I)6557621,1591,1852,854
Technical Drawing (Mode III)410488512612626

The Ability Range

207. Although entries were small, there is general agreement that candidates of all abilities were represented in all three examinations. Fewer pupils of high general ability were entered, however, and this was particularly the case for 1, where schools apparently continued to enter a number of such pupils for GCE O Level. It is suggested that pupils below the 40th percentile were also entered for 1 and 2.

The Syllabus and Objectives

208. The working party which developed 1 considered that technical drawing should no longer be confined to building and engineering and that it should be possible to develop a new syllabus beyond the traditional boundaries which gave due importance to the role of graphical communication in a technological society. The syllabus included sections on drawing techniques, related plain and solid geometry, three-dimensional representation, drawing as an aid to creativity, dimensioning, conventional and symbolic representation, and standards for drawing.


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209. Scheme 2 was based on very similar GCE and CSE syllabuses, with an opportunity for Mode II and Mode III approaches. Scheme 3 used a common core based almost completely on an existing Mode I CSE syllabus, with Mode II or Mode III approaches available where this did not match the courses in a particular school.

210. Although 1 set appropriate goals for the full ability range and aimed to advance the work of traditional CSE and GCE examinations in doing so, there is some doubt whether the most able are likely to be extended by the work and approach of the other two examinations, which represent current practice. The fact that few able pupils took 1 does not imply unsuitability, rather uncertainty in the minds of the teachers at the time.

The Examination and the Ability Range

211. The assessment techniques for 1 involved two papers and a project topic (20 per cent). Paper 1 (35 per cent) consisted of short and longer answer questions on the 'grammar' of the subject and paper 2 (45 per cent) offered a compulsory section followed by a choice of questions from a wide range of topics. These included three dimensional design related to school crafts, surveying, technical illustration, the use of charts, graphs and diagrams and electrical engineering, in addition to building drawing and mechanical engineering. In general, 1 and 2 emphasised objectivity and candidates were rarely challenged to produce something original. Scheme 2 was covered by two papers (50 per cent in each case). Objective questions were used and the examiners felt that although these were satisfactory some problems remained. Scheme 3 followed a similar pattern. Mode III assessment was done by teachers, moderated by either inter-school assessors or by referring to performance in the Mode I paper 1. Moderation on a larger scale than in the feasibility studies could present some problems.

212. The overall impression remains that when technical drawing is considered in a traditional way there is a problem in catering for the extremes of the ability range. Differentiated syllabuses and assessments were not a feature of the studies but might offer an acceptable answer to this dilemma.

Marking and Grading

213. The candidates in each of the three examinations were seen as a continuum and apart from the deduction of marks for presentation in 2 the scheme of marking was positive throughout. Notes of guidance for marking and assessment of the project in 1 were satisfactory. It was suggested that the wider ability range made coordination of the marking more difficult in 2.

Conclusion

214. The tradition of examining in this subject tends to overemphasise lower level responses and thus the examinations are weakest in testing the able, candidates. Typically, questions are set which have a predictable response and candidates are seldom required to describe or explain their own idea in graphical form. However, teachers seemed more sure with the conventional syllabuses for 2 and 3 than with 1, which attempted to alter these traditions. Despite the uncertainty about the syllabus and assessment techniques used with 1, this study still seems to have come nearest to meeting the needs of the whole ability range.


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215. Overall, it seems that appropriate assessment within a common system in this area is feasible but is likely to depend on the development of differentiated syllabuses and consequent differentiated assessment techniques for its achievement. It is possible that there is less need for such differentiated assessment if the subject is viewed in a way which allows for a greater amount of individual response to questions.






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CHAPTER 14: HOME ECONOMICS

Introduction

216. The basis of home economics education is a recognition of physical emotional and practical needs of people and the ways in which they can be met in the individual, family and community contexts. Each of the main content areas (home and environment, food and nutrition, health and safety, organisation and management of resources and consumer education) involves both theory and practical work, and applies knowledge and experience common to other disciplines.

The Evidence

217. One joint examination entitled 'Housecraft' was mounted. A discussion was held with the consortium and with subject interests.

Table 13

No. of candidates
Consortium19731974197519761977
JMB/TWYLREB9521,7532,2322,3154,343

The Ability Range

218. Pupils entered for the trial examination rarely included the highest level of ability, and there is some evidence of the entry of candidates below the 40th percentile. The large number of candidates, particularly in 1977, was likely to encompass adequately the range of ability currently entered for GCE and CSE examinations in this subject.

The Syllabus and Objectives

219. The aims of the syllabus are broadly based. The pupils work in each of the four main content areas, with the aim of developing sound training in running a home, a social sense, to help in raising a family and living in a community. The syllabus material does allow study at different depths according to individual needs and the assessment objectives are made clear through the notes for the guidance of teachers, area agreement trials and course work criteria.

220. Although all the four syllabus areas are inherently suitable for any section of the ability range with appropriate treatment, more emphasis on scientific principles would provide a better basis for more advanced work in the, sixth form or further education.

The Examination and the Ability Range

221. The examination consists of an assessment of practical work (50 per cent), a written theory paper (25 per cent) and an assessment of course work over the two year course (25 per cent). It does test a proper sample of the syllabus, although there is a heavy emphasis on cookery and laundry work. The balance between different elements of assessment seems to be appropriate.


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222. A considerable difficulty arising from the use of common question papers has been found in phrasing questions so that the least able can understand them and the more able be suitably challenged. The consortium has made attempts to improve this situation in the light of experience; it could be helpful if course objectives were specified directly, and this might lead to a greater awareness of the depth of study required.

Marking and Grading

223. The examination achieved discrimination at all levels. The criteria to assist teacher assessment of practical work appear to be effective; those for assessment of course work seem to be less clearly understood and less helpful.

Conclusion

224. None of the tasks set in the examination is inappropriate for all levels of ability in terms of content, skills and concepts, and feasibility would seem to be established. A more careful spelling out of course objectives, and possibly the consideration of other techniques to assist the least able candidates in understanding questions, could be of benefit. The extension of the examination to general usage would depend on overcoming the problems of scale in setting up inter-school assessment. A solution to this difficulty seems practicable.



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CHAPTER 15: NEEDLECRAFT AND DRESS

Introduction

225. Needlecraft is concerned with the knowledge and use of fibres for fabric construction, the scientific investigation into their properties, creative and traditional embroidery, and the use of fabrics in making clothing and furnishings for the home. It involves the development of specific skills, processes and techniques. Designing clothes, pattern drafting and modelling, and the use and adaptation of commercial patterns form a major part of courses. Related to the practical work there is a study of the care and maintenance of clothes, the history of clothes, the social implications of fashion and dress and consumer education. Current developments in the teaching of the subject have provided opportunities for greater freedom of expression and initiative.

The Evidence

226. One joint examination was mounted. A discussion was held with the consortium and subject interests.

Table 14

No. of candidates
Consortium19731974197519761977
CAMBRlDGE/EAEB6257839576981,287

The Ability Range

227. Initially it was felt that candidates across the whole ability range were present. However, high ability candidates became less well represented and some schools entered their most able pupils for GCE O Level during the more recent examinations, although overall numbers rose.

The Syllabus and Objectives

228. A number of reservations have been expressed about the syllabus, particularly where it was used with high ability pupils, because it appeared as the amalgam of two existing examinations rather than as a new one. It was felt to be too rigid, neglecting creative/experimental work and at the same time rather too shallow to be a good basis for further work. Its suitability was felt largely to depend on a teacher's interpretation; the implication was that the subject needed to be explored in considerably more depth and detail.

The Examination and the Ability Range

229. The present form of assessment is made up of a theory paper (35 per cent), a practical test (40 per cent) and course work (25 per cent). The particular difficulties in the written paper are those of pitching the language at a suitable level for the least able candidates, and of obtaining a suitable balance of multiple-choice and structured questions so as to make adequate demands on the able pupils. The paper certainly tests the syllabus adequately but there is an element of 'spoon-feeding' in its approach which prevents the most able from fully illustrating their range of achievement.


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230. The practical test has a clearly defined structure although it does not offer scope for flair and initiative. There are also concerns voiced about the assessment of course work, which could become more important if an examination of this kind were extended to general availability. The amount of teacher assessment is, however, thought to be appropriate.

231. In summary, although the range of assessment techniques used is fairly wide there remain a number of problems, mostly those of allowing adequately for the potential of the most able.

Conclusion

232. From the one examination used in evidence a number of important difficulties and reservations have emerged concerning the form of the syllabus, the range of assessment techniques and the need for in-service training in methods of assessment. Nevertheless, with appropriate widening of the scope of the examination and further study of assessment techniques a common examination could be feasible. Although the direct evidence from the study is too slender for firm conclusions to be drawn, a useful analogy can be made with the joint examinations in housecraft and other practical subjects. Such an analogy would support the feasibility of a common system of examining in needlecraft and dress.



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CHAPTER 16: ART

Introduction

233. Art is concerned with visual and tactile education, and in schools entails observation of, and work in, one or more of many materials or techniques - for example, painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, textiles, constructions or photography. All the activities involved require pupils to make visual, tactile and intellectual judgements, as well as sensory and emotional responses. To do so pupils have to come to a heightened awareness of shape, colour, texture and all those elements which form a visual vocabulary; and they do so for the most part not theoretically but through the manipulation of materials.

234. Practical examinations in art require little recall of factual information but rather a personal response to an experience or stimulus involving the use of materials. Time is an important factor because different processes require different amounts and patterns of time. Moreover, a simple piece of work can rarely be fully understood and appreciated in isolation, and is better seen as part of the artistic development of the pupil over a period, and as part of a sequence showing the development of visual ideas. Manual skill in the use of tools and materials is relatively easy to assess, and teachers often complain that a formal examination places too great an emphasis on this aspect of the work and gives little attention to personal interpretation and visual statement. Examinations in the history of art call for knowledge acquired through study of original works of art, architecture and designs, supported by reproductions of good quality and the work of art historians.

The Evidence

235. Two examinations form the basis of the evidence: no pupils' work was seen. This chapter relies on the experience of the examining boards, schools and HM Inspectors. Discussions were held with the two consortia and with subject interests. Further reference is made by number.

Table 15

No. of candidates
Consortium19731974197519761977
1. WJEC Art3664074592,9684,693
2. JMB/ALSEB/NWREB* Art and Design-1,8331,9047,65010,126

*NWREB until 1975; YREB and TWYLREB from 1976.

The Ability Range

236. The examinations 1 and 2 appear to be designed for the full range of ability currently catered for by CSE and GCE O Level examinations, and the candidates during the feasibility trial seemed to represent this range. The alternative written paper on appreciation in 1 appears to be for candidates of high ability, although no candidates have taken this alternative yet.


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237. The new syllabus of 1 is said to be based on the existing CSE syllabus, find also appears to be closely related to the O Level examination. All sections cover tried and tested aspects of the subject. The syllabus has sufficient breadth and requires attention to observation and drawing skills, without restricting the adventurous. The appreciation section outlines a demanding and varied programme of study with a sensible range of choice for pupil and teacher, but as no candidate has yet opted for this section a paper has yet to be produced. Information for candidates seems sparse and it is not clear whether during the course candidates have, or are intended to have, a clear idea of the aims, objectives and criteria of the course, and of the relationship of course work to a final practical test.

238. The range of 2 is clearly described and the comprehensive list of objectives is appropriate. A great deal of freedom is offered to school and pupil for individual interpretation, and there is much potential in such a programme; some teachers, however, could find the lack of detailed guidance confusing. The approach to appreciation/history of art as a suggested area of study offers an important extra dimension.

239. Schemes 1 and 2 are very different but equally valid, and reflect existing differences between boards in both O Level and CSE examinations. Both offer an appropriate framework for work in art for the entire group of pupils for whom the common system of examining is designed.

The Syllabus and Examination

240. In 1 the requirement for course work to be submitted and assessed is a significant development, but this appears to be seen and assessed in isolation from the practical test and solely by the teacher and external moderator. There is no indication of concern to involve candidates in presentation and display of work, but candidates appear to have freedom to submit course work from various syllabus sub-sections. On the formally set out test paper some significant concessions are made, eg prior notice and extra time at the head teacher's discretion. The system of examination adopted has given rise to no serious problems.

241. It is stated in the general principles underlying the system of examination of 2 that 'the examination should allow of a wider range of activity on the part of the pupil'. Eighteen areas of study are listed which appear satisfactorily wide, but much depends on choice and development of subjects by candidates and teachers; for example, 'composition in any medium, 2 or 3D plus illustration' could become a narrow and restrictive study or could provide opportunities for appropriate breadth and depth of study.

242. The suggestion that the period of unaided work be as long as eight weeks is unusual. Some teachers and moderators find this period too long for pupils to be without specialist help (the period might, counting holidays, start in January) and it demands much of pupils during a time of general pressure. Other teachers have observed increased motivation, development of initiative and of purposeful individual working. In the report on the 1974 examination based on information from 60 schools, it is stated that nearly three times as many schools


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wished to retain this element as wished to change it. Nevertheless, there must remain doubt as to the wisdom of allowing such a long period of unaided work in the programme of some 16 year old pupils.

Marking and Grading

243. There appear to have been no insoluble problems in carrying out examination procedures efficiently and fairly. Course work assessment plays an important part in all the studies and this is both welcomed by teachers and seen to be effective in giving 'an accurate reflection of the pupils' capabilities. The pattern of assessment of course work developed in 1 appears to operate well, with the teacher working with two visiting assessors.

Conclusion

244. The feasibility of a common examination has been shown by both examinations. The methods of organisation and examination have been shown to be very satisfactory, and the difficulties and problems which have been raised reflect problems in any examination in this field of study. The inclusion of course work assessment in a common system of examining has implications for the need to train more teachers in the techniques of assessment.



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CHAPTER 17: MUSIC

Introduction

245. Music provides both an important interest and satisfaction to many young people. It is also an art form which is ephemeral and intensely personal. Recently, there have been encouraging attempts to approach the teaching of music in new ways which bring as many aspects of the subject as possible within the compass of large groups of children of differing abilities and interests. This is a difficult enterprise practically because there remain particular problems of resources, such as the availability of instruments and practice rooms, and others relating to the place of music in the curriculum. To these problems must be added the intrinsic difficulty of catering for very wide differences in skills and abilities which are themselves often hard to define for assessment purposes.

The Evidence

246. One joint examination was mounted and offers the main evidence. Discussions were also held with the consortium and subject interests.

Table 16

No. of candidates
Consortium1974197519761977
AEB/TWYLREB254194242207

The Ability Range

247. The small number of entries in the first years covered the ability range unevenly, with few high ability candidates and uncertainties about the appropriateness of entries from some centres. Although numbers have not risen, the form of the examination has become more familiar to teachers; no more can be claimed than that enough candidates of differing abilities were entered to give useful information.

The Syllabus and Objectives

248. The central aim of the first draft syllabus was 'to provide opportunities for pupils of varying abilities to take an active part in performance, instrumental, vocal or both, and also develop their understanding and enjoyment of the subject'. Although ambitious in the above sense, the syllabus was traditional and academic in conception. All candidates were at first required to have been involved in ensemble playing and were examined in musical literacy and practical musicianship of a simple kind, and in musical knowledge. This common core element was thus largely preoccupied with literacy and aural skills, with little emphasis placed upon deeper musical understanding or the ability to explore materials. Despite the first stated aim, it proved very difficult to provide suitable opportunities for performance as a common element. Candidates were in addition asked to choose two options from a list comprising performance, harmony, musical form and history, musical composition and individual study, and only limited numbers of candidates, often the more accomplished, took advantage of the performance option.


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The Examination and the Ability Range

249. The inherent difficulty of the task led to a broad examination with many components and there has been adjustment and revision of some sections. Although teachers appear to have been satisfied with much of the assessment, some sections failed, even after improvement, to stretch the ablest candidates, and there were problems of discrimination particularly for the high ability pupils. On the other hand, other sections remained too difficult for the least able.

250. Throughout, difficulty was experienced in equating performances in the different optional studies; for example, the harmony paper always emerged as more difficult than others, although the options were not designed on a basis assuming inherently different difficulty. There were also considerable variations in the take-up of the different options, which persisted throughout the study. Despite these problems, it proved possible to award grades in an acceptable manner.

Extension

251. The cost of examining music in a way such as the scheme used, making much use of external examiners to assess practical musicianship and performance skills, is necessarily high, and this could be an important consideration for general extension. However, these problems are already encountered to some degree in current CSE examining in particular. It might be possible to explore alternative approaches, making greater use of teacher assessment for some elements.

Conclusion

252. The evidence from the single joint examination, which has catered for a very small number of candidates, is too slender to allow a general conclusion as to the feasibility of examining music within a common system. The problems inherent in the desire to assess high level performing skills and to achieve a proper balance between the various aspects of musical learning suitable for different pupils have been highlighted; they do not all appear to have been solved satisfactorily in this joint examination. However, a broader basis for the teaching and assessment of music can be discerned in some current practice, especially CSE work, and this may be developed more widely in the future. There is a need for further discussion and development to attempt to identify more clearly the aims and objectives of music teaching across the broad band of ability with which a common system would be concerned, and possibly to consider other approaches to assessment than those used in this study.


[page 73]

CHAPTER 18: FURTHER WORK

253. Some further work must be carried out in the period leading up to the introduction of a common system because, in our view, that system cannot work without it. This chapter tries to identify this essential work. In addition it draws attention to the possibility of making some improvements in present practice which are not essential to the introduction of the common system but for which the proposed changes afford a good opportunity. For the most part, further work, whether essential or desirable, can be based on the existing practice of the schools supported by curriculum projects already in progress; the subject chapters indicate the cases in which it will be dependent on the carrying out of new curriculum development work.

254. The major task, which must be completed during the preparatory period, is to devise, for each subject, aims, objectives, syllabuses and forms of assessment to suit the ability range of candidates likely to be presented for that subject. Within this range (which will differ between subjects) every effort must be made to enable both the ablest and the weakest candidates to show what they can do. Much has already been accomplished by the examining boards, in the fields of GCE, CSE and the joint examinations, by various curriculum projects and by work in the schools. But development is still needed: i. in major subjects for which examinations have not yet been developed by some consortia; ii. in those subjects, combined forms of subjects or aspects of subjects which were not treated by any of the consortia in the joint examinations; and iii. in subjects represented in the joint examinations but in need of reappraisal.

255. It may not be possible to deal with all this further work at once and priorities should be established, with three considerations in mind. Firstly, the importance of a subject by virtue of the number of candidates taking it; secondly, its importance as a qualification to users; and thirdly, the technical difficulty of the transition from a dual to a common system (which will be greater for subjects attracting a wide range of ability). On these counts English, mathematics, sciences, history and geography must be given high priority. Subjects where the ability range is not as wide (eg modern languages; craft subjects) will deserve a somewhat lower priority. This is not because these subjects are intrinsically less important and does not imply that work may not be very desirable to extend them across a wider range of ability; it is simply that the task of preparing for the introduction of a common system necessitates fewer changes of existing practice. The same principles should be applied in determining the urgency to be attached to other subjects. Amongst them subjects which attract considerable numbers of candidates, and subjects which are particularly adapted to the needs of a more restricted ability range (whether from the higher or lower end of the scale), must not be neglected. Examinations for some of the latter might be designed for limited grade ranges.


[page 74]

256. The considerable effort which will be required in reviewing aims and objectives and the related syllabuses will be applied to better advantage if two general principles are kept in mind. The first is that schools should have an appropriate choice of syllabus available to them, and the second is that the range and scope of available syllabuses should be as clear and intelligible as possible, to users as well as to schools. In major subjects some variety of syllabuses should be available (apart from the opportunity for a school to offer its own syllabus, as at present in Mode III), but some rationalisation may result where a large number of existing syllabuses have a great deal in common. Some subject chapters have drawn attention to a lack of clarity about essential content (social science; craft, design and technology). The system will be better understood, and more intelligently used, to the extent either that syllabus titles themselves give a sufficiently clear indication of the content or that information on this subject is readily accessible to those who may need it.

257. Considerations of a more strictly educational character should also be borne in mind. Some subject chapters have suggested the need for a better balance between factual recall and the application and understanding of concepts in the examinations with which they deal (commerce, mathematics and science) and the last two drew attention to the need to prune over-full syllabuses, especially for students who do not intend to pursue the subject beyond the age of 16. The relation of aims, objectives, syllabus and content to specific levels of ability should be made explicit.

258. Just as the aims, objectives, and syllabus must be related to the range of ability of the candidates so must the examination provide discrimination to match. The major question we have had to consider is how far this can be achieved by a common examination, with the element of differentiation this permits, and to what extent it will be necessary to have recourse to some other form of common system involving the use of differentiated papers.

259. Most of the joint examinations were designed on the basis of a common examination, a strategy which, if successful, would offer to the full the organisational and social advantages of a common system. Several of them attempted to deal with a wide ability range by setting questions capable of response at different levels, or questions or sections of papers directed at different identified levels of ability. In some major subjects it appeared to be possible to discriminate adequately over the subject ability range by such means. It is possible that further development work, taking account of experience in GCE and CSE, as well as in the joint examinations, may reveal wider scope for discriminating adequately within a common examination than at present seems likely.

260. On the basis of present evidence, however, some subjects are likely to require the use of differentiated papers. Since few of the joint examinations explored this approach more extensive development work is needed to identify the most promising applications in particular subjects, and to resolve attendant difficulties such as comparability between options, and the balance between, for example, poor performance on hard papers and good performance on easy ones. The range of work now to be tackled therefore includes the identification of


[page 75]

syllabus material that can be examined in common, and the definition of objectives and syllabus content for specific levels of ability; the basis for choice and options in the examination and the comparability of such options for the purpose of grading; analysis of the use of various techniques such as essay questions, structured questions, objective questions, and tariff questions, and their relationship to the performance of pupils of different levels of ability. The research already undertaken by the boards and that described, for example, in Schools Council Examinations Bulletins will be helpful in this context.

261. Part of the need for development work along the lines indicated above arises from the suggestion in certain subject chapters that although the joint examinations were broadly acceptable in meeting the needs of the middle of the intended ability range, they made insufficient demands on the abler candidates or presented excessive difficulties for the less able. The methods to be adopted to overcome these problems have implications for the curriculum. An obvious approach would involve overlapping syllabuses, to be examined or otherwise assessed by 3 papers (or other components) of varying difficulty, of which all candidates would take one, and either of the others. The development of such syllabuses would need to bear in mind the needs of different groups of students, for example of the majority whose school education would end at the age of 16, those intending to pursue the study of the subjects to a more advanced level, and able pupils who would not be doing so.

262. The use of forms of assessment other than written papers is intended primarily to explore capabilities of the candidates which may not otherwise be revealed. There is nothing new in introducing a range of components such as oral, practical, field and course work to make possible the assessment of a wider variety of skills than written examinations can test. Although the written examination is likely to remain a principal feature for most subjects, the assessment by other techniques of the ability to deal critically with extended pieces of work, to apply what has been learned, or to discuss a subject will be valuable in their own right. The development of these techniques will need to be considered with care subject by subject in order to achieve the right balance - a balance that overall will have to take account of available resources as well as educational advantage. To expand examination practice to include, for example, oral examining (still in its early stages except in modern languages), practical examinations, course work and project assessment creates logistical problems which can basically be solved on a large scale only by increased use of moderated school-based assessment. This has implications in a development period for the inservice training of teachers in assessment and moderating techniques. There is already much experience to hand which will support a development programme, especially if it is brought together.

263. Progress will be more rapid, and the chances of success greater, if boards co-ordinate their development work and pool their ideas and initiatives. Whilst a degree of competitiveness and independence in approach is to be welcomed, it should be the aim to secure some agreement as to the scope and limits of assessment techniques and as to the conditions and types of task to be set in the interest of comparability. It would be helpful if such co-ordination were to include consideration of such detailed matters as the marking and weighting of papers.


[page 76]

The need for co-ordination at this level is perhaps exemplified in English, where the differences in the approach of boards to such matters as spelling and grammar are wide.

264. The historical fact that the GCE and CSE examining boards have experience and expertise in catering for different, although overlapping, bands of ability, underlines the necessity for cooperative approaches to the work outlined above. Only through such cooperation is it possible to ensure that the considerable experience already gained in the joint examinations is used as a basis for the further development work required, and is made more widely available. But much remains to be done, and the magnitude and diversity of this work argue the need for co-ordination in order that the tasks may be distributed, as well as experience shared, and the work already done in association, for example, in the studies of comparability (especially cross-moderation exercises) and reliability, fully exploited.

265. There are other matters which merit consideration, though not necessarily before a common system is implemented. It will be worth bearing in mind ways of increasing the value of examinations to users. One obvious point, already referred to, is the desirability of clear and precise syllabus titles. There may be value too in making more clear to teachers how examiners reward different aspects of performance; this would be particularly valuable in subjects where no precise syllabus is available, as in English language. For some of those who require to take note of examination results for the purpose of employment (particularly in a technical capacity) it would be of help if eventually grade descriptions could be composed which gave an indication of what the candidate should have done to be awarded a particular grade, at least in the major subjects. At present syllabuses are made available to those employers who require them. In any case more discussion of these issues with employers appears necessary. There are examples of grade descriptions in both O Level and CSE examinations; however, we acknowledge that they are difficult to devise, and that maintaining comparability between grades would be difficult. Eventually also it may prove useful to those who require evidence of particular knowledge, skills, or other qualities, for a profile assessment to be made and recorded on certificates, although we understand that there may be substantial difficulties inherent in this approach.

266. We have concluded earlier in our report that a common system of examining is feasible. In coming to this view we became aware that a considerable amount of preparatory work would need to be done. That there was widespread readiness to undertake such work, that much experience of the issues had already been gained, and that changes in the curriculum were already prompting changes in examining practice were all factors which have led us to believe that the programme we have suggested is both necessary and practicable. If the experience and expertise already gained are pooled, our confidence that the fullest advantages of the common system could be secured would be still further increased.


[page 77]

APPENDIX A

LIST OF THOSE CONSULTED

Consultative meetings were held with teachers from a variety of schools and colleges of further education, LEA advisers, members of Schools Council subject committees, institutes of higher education, university departments of education, university faculties and with representatives of the following organisations:

National Association for the Teaching of English

Association of Teachers in Mathematics
Mathematical Association

Association for Science Education
Institute of Biology
Institute of Physics
Royal Institute of Chemistry
Chemical Society
The Royal Society

Historical Association

Geographical Association Royal
Geographical Society

British Association for Language Teaching
Joint Council of Language Associations
Modern Language Association

Joint Association of Classical Teachers

Economics Association
Faculty of Teachers in Commerce Ltd
Society of Commercial Teachers Ltd

Association for the Teaching of the Social Sciences
Economics Association
Politics Association

Institute of Craft Education
Association of Teachers of Domestic Science

National Society for Art Education
Society for Education through Art


[page 78]

APPENDIX B

QUESTIONS FORMULATED BY THE JOINT EXAMINATIONS SUB-COMMITTEE (JESC)

1. Do the candidates entered for the experimental examination in this subject cover the full range of ability currently catered for by CSE and GCE O Level examinations?

2. Are the syllabus and educational objectives appropriate for candidates at all levels of the ability range under consideration?

3. Are the examination and assessment procedures appropriate to the syllabus and educational objectives?

4. Are the examination and assessment procedures appropriate for candidates at all levels of the ability range under consideration?

5. Did the examination provide a meaningful degree of discrimination between candidates?

6. Is the experimental examination capable of being put into operation on a scale comparable to the present entry for the CSE and GCE O Level examination in this subject?

7. What advantages, or disadvantages, do participating teachers see in the common system of examining in this subject?


[page 79]

QUESTIONS FORMULATED BY THE EDUCATIONAL STUDY GROUP

The ability range

a. Do the candidates entered for the joint examinations cover the full range of ability currently catered for by CSE and GCE O Level examinations?

b. If not, are the conclusions concerning feasibility significantly affected?

The syllabus and objectives
a. Does the syllabus provide goals deemed worthwhile for all candidates and encourage them to work at a level and pace appropriate to their abilities?

b. Is any part of the syllabus and objectives unsuitable for any section of the ability range?

c. In the absence of a defined syllabus, how useful are the objectives in helping schools to frame appropriate syllabuses?

d. To what extent does the syllabus provide a basis for more advanced work in the sixth form or in further education?

e. Does the range of content reflect the objectives in a balanced way, or does it stress some aspects of the work to the neglect of others?

f. Can it be covered adequately in the time made available?

g. How do the objectives and syllabus compare with CSE and GCE and other joint examination syllabuses in your subject?

The examination related to the syllabus and objectives
a. In the absence of a detailed statement of syllabus and objectives, does the scheme of examination make clear the objectives, skills and content it is intended to assess?

b. How well does the examination test a proper sample of the syllabus and objectives?

c. Does the examination effectively test essential skills and concepts in your subject at this stage of development?

d. Does the form of examination reinforce any bias in the syllabus and objectives?

e. Does the weighting of various components in the examination overemphasise or underemphasise some aspects of your subject?

f. Is the balance of subjectively marked and objectively tested components suitable for assessment in your subject?

g. Is the balance of external examination and course work appropriate to assessment in your subject?

h. Is the balance of teacher assessed components and external examination appropriate to assessment in your subject?

i. In what way does course work contribute to the assessment?


[page 80]

The examination and the ability range

a. To what extent does the wide range of ability under consideration create increased problems in setting examination papers and other tests?

b. If so, are they capable of solution?

c. Are any of the tasks set in the examination inappropriate for certain levels of ability in terms of content, skills and concepts?

d. If so, are there other tasks designed to cater for them?

e. Are the instructions given on the papers capable of being readily understood by all candidates?

f. Are the design and layout of the papers equally helpful to all candidates?

g. Are certain techniques more effective measuring instruments than others for examining across a wide ability range?

h. What is the evidence for the above from other sources (eg current CSE examinations)?

i. Are there significant differences between examining techniques in terms of cost (finance, teacher and pupil time and stamina)?

Marking and grading
a. Is the marking undertaken from the standpoint of CSE and/or GCE or is there a clear attempt to see all candidates as part of a single continuum of ability?

b. To what extent is the marking 'positive' throughout?

c. Alternatively, is there a cut-off between 'positive' and 'negative' marking and does it relate to anyone section of the ability range?

d. Are different marking criteria applied to different levels?

e. If so, how far are teachers and pupils made a ware of these?

f. Do the questions and procedures for marking, adjustment and grading result in 'bunching' at any point on the scale?

g. To what extent does the examination achieve discrimination at all levels of ability?

h. How effective are the criteria provided to assist teacher assessment?

i. How effective is the coordination of the marking?

Extension
a. What are the problems of putting the examination into operation on a scale comparable to the present entry for CSE and GCE O Level?

b. Do the recent extensions of the joint examinations offer more evidence in this respect

    - in terms of the ability range envisaged?
    - in terms of examination and moderation techniques?
    - in terms of cost?
    - in terms of administration?

c. To what degree does familiarity with new syllabuses and forms of examination overcome early difficulties?

d. Do the more recent examinations suggest that any earlier shortcomings can be overcome?


[page 81]

APPENDIX C

SUMMARY OF STATISTICS OF ENTRIES FOR GCE 0 LEVEL, CSE AND JOINT EXAMINATIONS SUMMER 1976

(extracted from Statistics of Education 1976 Volume 2)

SUBJECTTotal GCE
O Level entries
(including joint
examinations)
Total CSE entries
(all Modes)
(including
joint
examinations)
Total entries
joint 16+
examinations
English Language
English Literature
452,179
248,485
471,52528,077
5,178
Mathematics270,297377,73116,101
Physics137,92998,2766,927
Chemistry112,22163,4274,374
Biology209,559153,5836,666
History149,242144,4865,731
Geography188,765166,3326,814
French152,459115,9997,386
German44,24620,7901,299
Latin
Latin and Classical Studies
32,0354,2031,814
Commerce29,47239,8282,275
Sociology and other Social Studies42,398109,888602
Religious Studies63,71747,536563
Craft, Design, Technology20,53458,482892
Technical Drawing49,85883,2663,175
Home Economics5,030102,4742,324
Needlecraft21,38538,825698
Art112,422148,82012,120
Music18,03413,304243


[page 82]

APPENDIX D

SUMMARY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE JOINT EXAMINATIONS

The following appendices relate to the subject chapters and give the numbers 1 of candidates graded, including those unclassified (U), for each of the operational joint examinations, the grades awarded and a brief synopsis of the syllabus and scheme of assessment.

It may be assumed that in the first two years each examination was a feasibility study. Thereafter the consortia of the examining boards were free to decide whether to continue to offer the examinations. In the cases where they did so the examinations were normally made available to a larger number of schools. The instances where the consortia were re-formed are indicated.

Where GCE grades A, B, C are quoted prior to 1975 they represent a conversion from the 'unofficial' grades awarded before that year when GCE grades were made 'official'. For ease of reference GCE grades D, E and U are not given. In some cases a global figure for GCE grades A, B, C is given.

The short summaries of the syllabus, schemes of assessment and modifications, are intended to point out significant features only. The reference numbers at the top right hand corner of each page are those adopted in the subject chapters.

The following feasibility studies were non-operational and details are not, therefore, given in this appendix:-

English3. LONDON/EMREB; 4. LONDON/OXFORD NREB
Mathematics6. OXFORD and CAMBRIDGE/SREB; 8. EMREB
Physics3. AEB/EMREB
Integrated Science1. AEB/EMREB
History3. LONDON/MIDDX

Details are not given of the following joint examinations which are operated as Mode II examinations by the CAMBRIDGE/SWEB/Barnstaple local consortium:

5 English; 7 Mathematics; 4 History; 5 Geography; 3 Modern Languages (French).

A Mode III examination in French is operated by the CAMBRIDGE/EAEB/East Herts. local consortium.


[page 83]

ENGLISH (Chapter 2)1. AEB/SEREB

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates1,1751,3128511,557
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and CSE Grade 1} A110.9271.11381.580.5
} B705.9846.4516.0684.4
} C15613.317113.09511.219912.8
CSE223820.324818.915318.030119.3
325621.827420.916719.636723.6
428424.230723.423828.041927.0
51058.915912.110912.816410.5
U554.7423.2252.9312.0

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

General aims were stated. The objectives and syllabus were included with the details of the scheme of assessment.

A unitary approach was adopted, embracing both language and literature. An additional literature paper (offered by AEB) was available to candidates, providing O Level grading in addition to the feasibility study award.

Scheme of Assessment

Composition, Paper 1, 1½ hrs
A Narrative/ factual/ descriptive essay
B Expository essay of precise nature
Each section compulsory but choice within eachDeliberate experiment multiple marking (3 examiners)
Comprehension, Paper 2, 1½ hrs
A Multiple choice
B Open-ended passage
No choice except time at discretion of candidateA and B compared for discrimination
Course work (language)Teacher assessment guided by agreement trial and criteria, and moderated
Aural

Oral
2 hearings, notes during second
Reading aloud and discussion


Teacher assessment moderated
Course work (oral)Teacher assessment guided by agreement trial, criteria, moderation
Course work (literature)4 books; creative work possibilityTeacher assessment guided by agreement trial and criteria and moderated
Literature, Paper 3, 2 hrs
A Textual appreciation (poem)
B Set books (2)
2 questions compulsory; choice within eachAn additional paper available for O Level grades only

Modifications

1975 language papers graded together; moderation of oral in half the schools only; criteria (for teacher assessment) issued for upper grades also.

1976 exact time allocation for sections of paper 2 laid down (because of the tendency of lower ability candidates to penalise themselves).


[page 84]

ENGLISH2. ALSEB/JMB/NWREB
(NWREB 1974 and 1975 since 1976 YREB also)

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates3,9473,1627,71911,053
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and CSE Grade 1} A3338:42477.82413.15845.3
} B73318.647515.091811.91,68715.3
} C71518.175623.91,91724.82,83925.7
CSE270617.955917.71,81423.52,42822.0
359815.249015.51,48419.21,73415.7
450712.834911.084510.91,0199.2
52476.31755.53043.93423.1
U1082.71113.51962.54203.8

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Literature was excluded initially because of the lack of time available for preparation, subsequently postponed until the 16+ issue is resolved. For language the syllabus contains a statement of objectives, form of examination, content (defined in terms of papers and questions linked to the objectives). An oral examination is included.

Scheme of Assessment

Expression, Paper 1, 1½ hours 40%
A. Continuous writing:
organisation of material,
exposition and argument 20%
B. Imaginative writing: 20%
Each section compulsory but choice of question within each; maximum marks indicatedDual marking on impression 80 marks scaled to 40 and weighted to same mean and SD as paper 2
Understanding, Paper 2, 1½ hours
A, Imaginative writing
(prose or verse) 32%
B. Extracting information 20%
C. Evaluation of language used persuasively 20%
All questions compulsory; maximum marks indicated for each questionDetailed marking scheme adjusted remarking of sample; used as criterion for paper 1
Spoken English solo and group discussionSample of no fewer than 3 examples from a variety of speech situations (9 proposed)Standardised by local group meetings and moderation visits (based on taped and live performance). Weighted to half mean and SD* for paper 2

*Standard Deviation

Modifications

1975 preliminary standardisation of paper 1 examiners to avoid pairing of 'severe' examiners and of 'lenient' examiners; group oral removed from moderation.
1977 Section C of paper 2 incorporated in paper 1.
1978 folio of teacher assessed course work allowed as alternative to paper 1.


[page 85]

ENGLISH6. TWYLREB/JMB

Years of
operation
19731974197519761977
Number of candidates2,1094,0285,75113,22416,480
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A1135.41463.63035.35574.27414.5
} B35416.849912.472212.51,77013.41,99912.1
} C67031.81,09227.11,42824.83,33725.23,63322.0
CSE236217.275018.61,14820.02,72220.63,49321.2
332315.380019.91,08018.82,48718.83,42720.8
420949.948412.074112.91,69712.82,30714.0
57133.42375.92915.06054.68335.0
U70.33200.5380.7490.4470.3

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Schools were allowed to develop their own syllabuses while having regard to certain common objectives suggested by the common elements in TWYLREB local groups and the JMB experimental scheme in English language. The unitary approach was adopted; oral performance was included as an objective.

Scheme of Assessment

100% coursework. No oral assessment was included
12 assignments to be completed, 5 of which are selected by the teachers to reflect the standard of the pupils' work at the end o'r the course; a varied range of work to be included, with 1 assignment giving evidence of the pupil's ability to understand what he has read and 1 piece done largely in classStandardised by the school after attendance at 3 compulsory group-based agreement trials which identified criteria applying to the whole mark range; grades and order of merit by the schoolValidation of sample of work of 25 candidates conducted by first assessors (chosen from agreement trials)
- by second assessors in the event of disagreement
- by Review Panel in case of further disagreement

Modifications

1974 a further local group was set up with assessors enabled to visit schools.
1976 second agreement trial held within schools based on their own material.
1977 second agreement trials based on common material to assist overall comparability.


[page 86]

ENGLISH LANGUAGE7. WMEB/JMB

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates3,5544,4955,8096,772
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and CSE Grade 1} A2045:71623.61272.22493.7
} B49713.553511.94187.26149.1
} C56415.982218.31,05018.11,32719.6
CSE259516,789920.01,40024.11,31919,5
383823.61,01622.61,27822.01,29319.1
443612.361613.71,02817.11,37220.3
53259.13768.44658.05257.8
U942.6300.7410.71181.7

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Language and literature were to be separately examined so that the candidate with 'ability in English but with no interest in literature should not be penalised'. Aims are stated in terms of the abilities required in an assessment of written and spoken language.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 1½-2 hours
Long essay based on visual material and information 25%
Shorter descriptive essay 12%
Each section compulsory but choice within eachExternal dual marking
Paper 2, 1½-2 hours
Factual comprehension 10%
Imaginative comprehension 15%
Continuous formal writing 13%

Compulsory

Compulsory

Choice
External marking
Oral
Aural test 8%
Reading aloud 4%
Conversation 8%
Course work 5%
Multiple choice
objective test
Internal dual marking
Moderated by aural
Teacher assessed

Modifications

1975 aural test revised and oral assessment procedures tightened.
1976 objective comprehension test introduced; imaginative writing section transferred.


[page 87]

ENGLISH LITERATURE8. WMEB/JMB

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates4,8014,9575,2275,731
Number of
candidates
entering options:
SBTACWSBTACWSBTACWSBTACW
1,16815462,08711,1989032,85611,3575733,2771,5261544,051
Grades awarded
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A13554101661416062911680164
} B22313228116653224200212431936236
} C285130251327923713647442641316691
CSE2711482331571074442638867928435804
3811512951591235262859965728533815
413119127625125036715012858724239805
517346586749186492171104101916531
U5927528323782721644159108105

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The syllabus comprises a statement of 3 alternative forms of assessment in concordance with the aims of a course in literature.

Schemes of Assessment

1. Set Books Approach 60%
(SB) Written paper, 2 hrs.
Set books (additional or alternative books can be proposed by school)
Course work 40%
3 questions covering at least 2 sections (prose, poetry, drama); choice within sections
Folio of at least 10 pieces covering all 3 areas of literature; 5 best chosen by teacher from each of 10 candidates including best and worst




Moderated statistically against written papers and school's order of merit
2. Thematic Approach, 60%
(TA) Written paper, 2 hrs
6 themes proposed with set books for each covering prose, poetry, drama
Course work 40%
3 questions covering at least 2 themes and all areas of literature



As above
As above
3. Course Work 100%
Approach (CW) Books studied to be of same calibre as for the set books approach, Statement of qualities expected of candidate
Folio of at least 15 pieces of work; sample of 5 best pieces chosen by teacher (at least one from each of prose, poetry, drama) from best, worst and 18 other candidates, Standards and order of merit aligned by schoolExternal moderation by second assessors by initial marking, adjustment, re-marking where necessary.

Modification

1976 the Set Books Approach less wide (schools not allowed to make their own choice of texts).


[page 88]

MATHEMATICS (Chapter 3)1. WJEC Scheme I
WJEC Scheme II

Years of
operation
19731974197519761977
Number of
candidates
7898698684,5099,120
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A8410.68910.2697.9972.126)2.9
} B13817.514316.413015.04048.95956.5
} C18723.719922.920223.376016.81,36214.9
CSE210613.4778.99110.565914.61,51016.5
38110.3637.212113.972716.11,56917.2
4779.79310,711813,671715.91,50916.5
5303,88810.1627.151611.499310.9
U8610.911713.5758.662913.91,31714.4

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

No new syllabus was provided but both schemes were based on the GCE O Level II syllabus and the CSE general syllabus.

Schemes of Assessment

Scheme 1

Paper 1 50%
Section A
25 short questions
Section B
8 long questions
All to be attempted

Candidates required to answer as many as possible
Incline of difficulty in the questions
Paper 2 50%
Section A
25 short questions
Section B
8 long questions
As for Paper 1As for Paper 1

Scheme II

Three question papers, candidates being required to take papers 1 and 2 or papers 2 and 3.

Paper 1 50%
28 short answer questions
5 structured questions
Papers 1 and 2 designed to allow award of CSE grades and GCE grade C (exceptionally B)


Papers 2 and 3 designed to allow award of GCE grades A and B
Incline of difficulty intended from questions in paper 1 through each paper to end of paper 3
No choice of question
Paper 2 50%
21 structured questions and problem solving
Paper 3 50%
13 structured questions and problem solving

Modifications

1975 new syllabus constructed.
1978 Scheme I discontinued. Scheme II requires candidates to choose either papers 1 and 2 or papers 2 and 3.


[page 89]

MATHEMATICS2. LONDON/SEREB

Years of operation19741975
Number of candidates1,1271,182
Grades awarded%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A857.5665.6
} B14312.714111.9
} C25122.324120.4
CSE2968.51069.0
31301l.5968.1
422520.029324.8
513111.614512.13
U665.8947.9

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Initial discussion produced a set of aims which it was felt could best be met by a blend of traditional and modern approaches. The ability range was to be covered by a common core syllabus rather less extensive than a conventional CSE syllabus, with a further optional section. Work involving more advanced application of the core and work from (at least 4 of) the further sections was to be covered in an optional third paper which contributed to the higher grades.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1Multiple choice 1 hour 17%
All questions to be attempted
Both papers set on common core syllabus and designed to allow award of CSE grades and GCE grade C
Paper 217%
About 10 structured questions 1 hour 40 mins
Paper 3A conventional 2 hour paper with choice; 33%
7 sections 2 questions in each, candidates to answer 6 questions
Designed to contribute to higher GCE grades Optional paper
Course Work 33%Teacher assessment. Criteria set by consortium


[page 90]

MATHEMATICS3. JMB/ALSEB/NWREB
(1976 JMB/ALSEB/TWYLREB/YREB)

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates3,2133,0536,0528,643
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A2728:52718:94868.07078.2
} B51215.945514.990515.01,22914.2
} C45414.146815.31,21820.12,03323.5
CSE235811.131810.481213.31,18613.7
341112.832510.682913.71,18813.7
446014.344614,670911.71,07612.4
551316.051116.75068.46908.0
U2337.22598.55879.75346.2

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The aims of the examination were listed as:

(a) Knowledge and information: recall of definitions, notations, concepts.
(b) Techniques and skills: computation and manipulation of symbols and use of mathematical instruments.
(c) Comprehension: the capacity to understand problems, to translate symbolic forms, to follow and extend reasoning.
(d) Application: of appropriate concepts in both familiar and unfamiliar mathematical situations.
On this basis a syllabus was developed consisting of:
(a) A common core 'traditional in content'.
(b) Two optional topic syllabuses:
    1. Algebra, Trigonometry, and Calculus.
    2. Choice, Chance and Statistics.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1,1½ hours 33.3%
All objective questions
No choiceObjective questions regarded as effective discriminators, to have high reliability and to allow wide syllabus coverage
Paper 2, 2 hours 33.3%
Various types of questions to test common core, particularly abilities which cannot be tested by objective questions
No choicePaper used to test abilities difficult to test by objective questions
Paper 3, 1¾ hours + 33.3%
¾ hour reading time. Section A 6 straightforward questions, each counting 1 unit. Section B. 6 more difficult questions each counting 2 units. Questions on both topic options in each section
Choice of questions with mark weighting of each indicated. Students to choose questions to make up a total of 12 unitsQuestions deliberately set at different levels of difficulty


[page 91]

MATHEMATICS4. AEB/MIDDLESEX

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates2,2342,8092,9303,167
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A572.5511.8592.0702.2
} B934.21244.41525.21013.2
} C23710.61696.02468.42507.9
CSE238117.068024.248916.754817.3
329313.164923.148416.551616.3
448321.651618.462121.267821.4
537216.62759.82558.72578.1
U31814.234512.362421.374723.6

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

A common core of work was identified. A simplified set of objectives was given involving knowledge, skills, understanding, application and inventiveness. The core was based on a pruning of the AEB O Level common core with the addition of statistics. Both traditional and modern elements were inclUded. Outside the common core some choice was necessary to conform with the policies of both boards. Initially three alternatives A. traditional, B. traditional/modern and C. modern were provided.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 1 hour 25%
Objective questions on any part of the common core syllabus Sections A, Band C
All questions compulsory
Paper 2, 1½ hours 35%
A combination of structured response and open-ended questions on any part of the common core syllabus Sections A and B
All questions compulsory
Papers 1 and 2 were used as a reference in determining the weighting of paper 3A, B or C.
Paper 3, 2¼ to 3 hours 40%
Three alternative papers
All candidates offer one only from Mode I
A. General maths (traditional)
B. General maths (traditional and modern)
C. General maths (modern)
Mode III alternative
Each paper to contain questions for the whole ability range and also questions to allowable candidates to give extra evidence of their abilities

Modifications

1975 Paper 3 included alternative D, commercial mathematics and statistics.
1978 Paper 3 made optional; all CSE grades may be awarded on papers 1 and 2 alone.


[page 92]

MATHEMATICS5. CAMBRIDGE/EAEB

Years of operation19731974197519761977
Number of candidates1,2031,6912,4312,3666,166
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A988.11277.51847.61877.93085.0
} B26522.032719.339416.240417.167210.9
} C24620.427216.137215.339916.889414.5
CSE214111.720312.032813.529912.789414.5
313711.421612.829212.028011.897415.8
414812.320612.234114.029512.584513.7
5978.11669.82048.42108.962310.1
U715.917410.333913.929212.395615.5

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The pilot scheme in 1973 was based on material common to EAEB and CAMBRIDGE syllabuses and was thus shorter than either of these. There were small additions in 1974.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 2½ hours (50%)
2 sections A, B
A large number of short questions to cover the whole syllabus, section B more demanding than section A

No choice of questions on paper 1 or paper 2. Each paper to include sufficient questions suitable for all candidates within the specified ability range.
Paper 2, 2½ hours (50%)
2 sections A, B

Modifications

1975 - A four paper (0, (1, 2,) 3) scheme was tried. In addition to papers 1 and 2, 243 candidates of low ability (according to teacher assessment) took an additional paper 0 and 280 high ability candidates took an additional paper 3. There was no special syllabus work associated with this first experiment. Candidates were then assessed on the results of the various combinations of 2 consecutive papers.
1977-A modified scheme involving papers 1, 2, 2a, (high ability) and 2c (low ability) was tried.


[page 93]

SCIENCE (Chapter 4) (Biology)1. AEB/MREB

Years of operation19741975
Number of candidates564396
Grades awarded%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A234.030.8
} B508.9184.5
} C7513.3143.5
CSE211019.5287.0
312522.25313.4
47813.816441.4
5407.15714.4
U6311.25914.9

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The working party formulated a new syllabus based on a number of topics and laid out in three sections called 'basic content', 'more detailed consideration', and 'comparative'. The working party advised that it would be expected that the basic content part of the syllabus in all sections would be studied by all candidates. As much as possible of the more detailed consideration and the comparative sections in at least five sections would also be required, in accordance with the ability of the individual.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 1 hour 25%Consisting of 50 objective type questions testing the 'basic content' section. This paper, in view of its relationship to this area of the syllabus, was not intended to measure higher abilities
Paper 2, 1½ hours 45%The first section to contain eight structured questions corresponding to the eight sections of the syllabus. Candidates were to answer 5. As far as possible, each question would test the same abilities. The second section to consist of two essay topics, of which candidates would be required to choose one; to test logical progression of thought and ability to express in continuous prose.
Practical exam, 1½ hours 10%Based on four 'stations' the first three having a time allowance of 12 minutes and the fourth 36 minutes
Teacher assessment:
(a) Field work 10%
(b) Long term 10%
investigation
Moderated by a sample of at least 30% of the work, selected from the top, middle and bottom of the mark range.


[page 94]

SCIENCE (Biology)2. CAMBRIDGE/EAEB

Years of operation19731974197519761977
Number of candidates8591,1221,6651,5813,011
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A10011.6867.71488.91187.51966.5
} B16218.915914,221412,924615.640713.5
} C17320.120418.225215.130319.352917.6
CSE215117.615714.016610.027717.246715.5
311813.717015.120312.222814.442114.0
4637.313712.219011.421513.638612.8
5465.4645.717510,5795.02959.8
U465.414512.931719.0956.031010.3

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The pilot scheme was based on existing EAEB and CAMBRIDGE syllabuses. For 1974, however, a composite syllabus was produced. The current examination tests the following abilities: recall, application, design of experiments, deduction, continuous prose writing and practical skills.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 33%
1½ - 2 hours
Multiple choice and short answer questions. No choice
Paper 2, 33%
1½ - 2 hours
Structured and essay questions. Structured questions designed for each to exhibit progressive increase in difficulty. One essay question based on a comprehension passage, the other two on non-common parts of the syllabus. No choice
Paper 3 (Practical) 17%That set for CAMBRIDGE O Level GCE Biology
Teacher Assessment 17%Based on any of
(a) Field work
(b) Project work
(c) Course work including practical.
Teacher assessed and externally moderated.


[page 95]

SCIENCE (Biology)3. JMB/TWYLREB
(1976 ALSEB/JMB/TWYLREB/YREB)

Years of operation19731974197519761977
Number of candidates8381,9442,8213,2925,383
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A414.9633.21565.51715.21542.9
} B14917.81487.629910.62969.03987.4
} C12715.21276.531011.03239.861311.4
CSE218922.546223.854219.22186.672113.4
321025.047624.553919.197129.570913.2
4829.847124.266723.671821.81,22622.8
5323.81869.62619.340812.41,14221.2
U81.0110.5471.71875.74207.8

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The working party had available the JMB O Level syllabus and TWYLREB Mode I and certain Mode II and Mode III syllabuses from the two local groups closely involved. In addition, an outline of an experimental scheme being run by JMB and involving 'assessment units' was available. It was agreed to pursue the idea of a common core of material (taken from the material common to all syllabuses considered) to be examined, plus optional units of work to be chosen by schools according to their own requirements. It was agreed that the common core should involve broad study with restricted detail, leaving for work units limited study in greater depth.

Scheme of Assessment

Theory Paper 50%Set on common core
Section A 50 computer-marked objective questions
Section B longer structured questions
Work Units 30%

Practical Abilities 20%
Externally moderated teachers assessment with 2 schemes of moderation
1. Scheme E marks statistically moderated against theory paper
2. Scheme A schools submit grades validated by inter-school assessors
A Mode III option is available for groups of schools providing at least 300 candidates


[page 96]

SCIENCE (Biology)4. LONDON/SEREB

Years of operation19741975
Number of candidates916933
Grades awarded%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A606.5485.1
} B11512.6899.5
} C12713.913414.4
CSE212713.918119.4
312914.117518.8
417018.518720.0
513014.2778.2
U586.3424.5

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The syllabus was based on the LONDON O Level syllabus and the SEREB's CSE syllabus. It was constructed on three main themes:

(i) Diversity of Life Forms.
(ii) Structure and Function of Living Organisms.
(iii) The Environment.
The examination aimed to test both theoretically and practically: knowledge of facts, understanding of facts, ability to apply scientific principles and methods, ability to organise facts, collate information and exercise judgement.

Scheme of Assessment

External examination
Paper 1, 1 hour
Consisting of 60 multiple choice questions. This paper covered the whole syllabusThe closed form of paper 1 and the structured nature of paper 2, part A meant that higher ability candidates would be restricted in the extent to which they could show a broad knowledge and understanding. There was an attempt at an incline of difficulty in the questions in paper 2, part A

Paper 2, Part B was to provide discrimination for very able candidates
Paper 2 Part A,
1½ hours


Paper 2 Part B, 1 hour
Consisting of 6 structured questions all to be attempted

Consisting of 2 sections, each section containing 2 questions. Candidates were required to answer one question from each section. The questions could cover any part of the syllabus
Internal Assessment
Coursework

Practical work
Coursework assessed five times during the last two years of the course, and comprising original work carried out by the candidates not assessed under another heading
Defined skIlls assessed durIng the course
Teachers attended agreement trials; statistical moderation based on the results of the external examination
In addition assessors visited centres in pairs to make their own assessment of course work and practical skills


[page 97]

SCIENCE (Biology)5. WJEC

Years of operation19731974197519761977
Number of candidates3623963542,9535,237
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A3710.24912.4329.01896.42965.6
} B8924.68220.76217.555218.782615.8
} C9024.99223.27421.057519.498918.9
CSE23710.24812.15716.135212.093918.0
34612.74310.94813.639313.363212.0
43710.24310.94913.836912.54668.9
5246.6317.8257.02608.84298.2
U20.682.072.02638.966012.6

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

For the purpose of the feasibility studies in 1973, there was no change to the existing GCE and CSE syllabuses. An interim syllabus was drawn up for the 1974 examination and a new joint syllabus was designed in the light of experience for the 1976 examination.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 1½ hours
40 items of the short answer type; all compulsory and some becoming more complex and difficult towards the end of the paper
Question paper had as its target discrimination among candidates at present in the CSE range of ability and including those likely to obtain GCE O Level grade C
Paper 2, 1½ hours
Section A
3 compulsory structured questions


Section B
A choice of 3 from 5 short answer type questions
The items within the questions range from simple recall objective type to items requiring deeper thought and reasoning ability
It is on this part of the test paper that most candidates were expected to demonstrate understanding, marshalling of of ideas and logical expression

Modifications

1976 new syllabus.
Examination paper 1 was made slightly more difficult as experience improved the setting of questions.


[page 98]

SCIENCE (Chemistry)1. JMB/WMEB

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates3,6133,7414,3735,938
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A1333.72667.13307.54417.4
} B40811.353414.152412.070411.8
} C51014.164817.273816.91,10818.6
CSE23489.657215.366715.21,09918.5
346212.857215.379518.21,11418.8
41,15231.848212.93959.05188.7
52807.844111.83127.15138.6
U3208.92245.961214.04417.4

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The aim was to produce a syllabus which would allow freedom to develop in accordance with relevance to pupils and facilities. The syllabus was based on a common core plus options. Objectives were knowledge (25%), comprehension, application and evaluation (50%), practical (25%). The form of the syllabus has remained basically the same since 1974. The number of options has, however, been dropped to 6 with a unit on the periodic table being moved into the core and a unit on industrial raw materials being removed. Practical work was to be covered by internal assessment.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1 45%
based on the core syllabus
40 compulsory objective questions and some structured questions
Paper 2, 2 hours 30%
examining optional topics
2 questions on each of 8 options 6 answers required
Course work assessment 25%Agreed assessment procedures detailed by the boards. Moderated statistically against paper 1 performance

Modifications

1978 changes in weighting of papers 1 and 2 (40% and 35% respectively); the time allocation and number of questions to be answered have also been modified.


[page 99]

SCIENCE (Chemistry)2. LONDON/YREB

Years of operation19741975
Number of candidates528329
Grades awarded%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A336.2206.1
} B7514.24413.4
} C8716.56218.8
CSE26913.14012.1
38816.73811.5
48816.76118.5
55510.43911.8
U336.2257.6

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Twenty themes were presented based on consideration of the existing GCE and CSE syllabuses, together with much explanatory material. Optional sections were avoided as 'defeating the purpose of the study'. There was some modification at the earliest stage after consultation. Examination objectives were fixed as knowledge (40%), comprehension (20%), application (20%), analysis/evaluation (10%), synthesis (10%).

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 1 hour 25%50 objective questions
Paper 2, 2½ hours 25%7 structured questions each designed to become progressively more difficult. 1 essay question (out of 4) designed to test 'synthesis'
Course work assessment 50%Guidance on abilities to be assessed. Moderated statistically against performance on papers 1 and 2


[page 100]

SCIENCE (Physics)1. JMB/ALSEB/NWREB
(NWREB until 1975 TWYLREB and YREB from 1976)

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates2,3482,5675,4228,285
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A1727.41525.93346.25676.8
} B47420.240615.892017.01,25415.1
} C44018.758622.81,32324.41,89222.8
CSE236615.641616.21,12820.81,38016.6
31878.042216.487616.11,29415.6
458024.735513.84919.097811.8
51124.81536.02244.14645.6
U170.7773.01262.34655.5

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The stated teaching objectives were knowledge (50%), comprehension (30%) and appreciation and evaluation (20%), together with practical abilities. These were assessed in the initial scheme through a common core (mechanics and general properties of matter, wave motion and sound, light, heat, magnetism, electricity and atomic structure) plus either a further physics option leading to more advanced study, or two topics such as home physics, or electronics having a practical bias. For 1978, the syllabus was restructured to consist of a revised core with four extensions: further physics 'for today's world', in the home, in the motor car and electronics in action.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 1 hour 45%45 objective questions of various kinds
Paper 2, 2 hours 35%either further physics 16 short answer questions, 2/4 structured questions or two physics topics, 8 short answer questions, 2/4 structured questions on each
Practical 20%either a formal practical examination or 6 course work exercises

Modifications

1978 Paper 1 extended to 1½ hrs and 60% weighting; to consist of section A (40 objective questions) and section B (5 structured questions) Paper 2 to be an examination of one extension only, using 6/8 structured questions or course work assessment as an alternative (20%). The practical examination was removed and practical abilities tested by internally assessed, statistically moderated course work.


[page 101]

SCIENCE (Physics)2. OXFORD/SREB

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates1,1561,3901,507SREB 614
OXFORD 903
Grades awarded%%%separate
examina-
tions
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A846.0906.0
} B47541.123617.016410.9
} C27820.031420.8
CSE214212.326419.021013.9
315913.719413.923615.7
416214.015411.121414.2
516214.013910.019613.0
U564.8412.9835.5

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Detailed teaching objectives were specified. The ability of a candidate was to be 'reflected in the extent of his achievement'. The syllabus was based on a common core (particle dynamics, structure and behaviour of materials, electricity and the atom, waves and radiation) plus options (eg ray optics, sound, astronomy, electro-magnetic radiations, electronics).

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 1¼ hours 35%50 objective questions on the core
Paper 2, 2¼ hours 35%1/2 structured questions on each of 5 sections
Alternative questions were set on the same objectives - an 'incline of difficulty'
Option Paper, 1 hour 20%either externally or internally set and marked (or class work)
Practicalteacher assessment

Modifications

1975 papers changed to cater better for weaker candidates. A change in format of paper 2 was also made.
From 1977 the examination ceased to be conducted on a consortium basis.


[page 102]

HISTORY (Chapter 5)1. OXFORD/SREB

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates920959805SREB 306
OXFORD 318
Grades awarded%%%separate
examina-
tions
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A465.6656.8617.6
} B13815.016817.512916.0
} C14716.017418.113516.8
CSE212713.812513.012715.8
316818.218819.612515.5
415316.617518.218523.0
510411.3646.7435.2
U374.0242.4263.1

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The period chosen for study was British History 1867-1964 with a further subdivision 1867-1918 and 1900-1964. This was a popular period amongst schools entering candidates for GCE and CSE. A detailed breakdown of the skills to be tested by the various parts of the examination was provided for teachers.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1
Section A, ¾ hour 50%
Multiple choice objective test
Section B, 1¼ hours 30%
Structured questions
All questions compulsory

Choice of question according to period chosen
Designed to test knowledge of whole period.
Designed to test skills of analysis, extrapolation, synthesis, judgement, evaluation, with emphasis on first two
Paper 2
Section A, 1 hour 30%
Questions on documentary sources

Section B, 1¼ hours 20%
Either: two essay questions
or: one prepared essay written under examination conditions
or: project
All questions compulsory; maximum marks for each indicated



Choice as for 1B
Choice from titles set 2 months before examination
Approved topic from any period
All designed to assess skills as above







Moderated by visiting teacher and oral

Modifications

1975 - pre-moderation meeting for project assessors; criteria clarified.
1976 - sub-division of syllabus discontinued.
1977 - examination ceased to be conducted on a consortium basis; change in time and weighting and in format of paper 2 to include structured questions and prepared questions.


[page 103]

HISTORY2. JMB/WMEB

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates3,0563,2494,7486,607
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A1926.31835.62274.82213.3
} B42313.83229.954711.571110.8
} C52617.257517.792219.41,26419.1
CSE236511.949915.364713.694714.3
342714.045514.061512.992213.9
466421.775823.398720.81,46022.1
531910.42658.150710.768410.3
U1404.61925.92966.23986.0

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The stated objectives are: to test knowledge of a given body of factual material; to test the ability to select and organize material; and to test understanding of historical material. The essential core syllabus is limited to topics of the social history of the period 1700-1850; in addition, candidates make a choice oftwo from eleven topics covering mainly the period 1850 to the present day.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 1½ hours 40%
Section A
Objective Test

Section B Short-answer structured questions
All questions compulsory

All questions compulsory but some choice within questions. Part of each question requires an answer in continuous prose
Testing knowledge and understanding of core syllabus
Paper 2, 1½ hours 40%
Essay questions
Choice of 2 questions provided on each of 11 optional topics. Candidates to answer I question on each of 2 topics
Special Study 20%
Topic to be chosen from any part of the syllabus
3,000 wordsAssessed by class teacher with criteria and weightings given by working party. Marks validated at both local and regional levels

Modifications

1975 - more concise instructions on form and content of the special study. Candidate who fails to submit study cannot be awarded grade.
1976 and 1977 - some minor amendments to syllabus, mainly giving greater detail of topics.


[page 104]

GEOGRAPHY (Chapter 6)1. JMB/ ALSEB/NWEB
(NWEB until 1975, 1976 also YREB,
1977 also TWYLREB)

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates2,3182,5443,8075,550
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A1647.12068.12406.33596.8
} B38216.531812.545011,862511.8
} C35715.449119.375119.71,07120.3
CSE242618.443817.268918.11,05219.9
333914.640716.065517.294918.0
435215.235914.156814.981415.4
524410.52168.52907.63807.2
U542.31094.31644.33000.6

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Objectives were stated in terms of knowledge, comprehension and application of principles (weighted 40%, 40%, 20% respectively) and clarity of expression. The examination syllabus was planned not to be 'unwieldy' and to be a selection only of a teaching syllabus. Elements common to the three boards' syllabuses were used as the basis for the syllabus;-

Field Studies (list of suggestions for topics) - 25%.
Home Region (including map reading) - 20%.
British Isles: Lower Thames Basin, Yorkshire, Scottish Highlands (including physical geography) - 30%.
World Studies: River Nile, Canadian Shield, France - 25%.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 1¼ hours 35%Objective Test: 50 pretested itemsTo ensure all candidates were examined on the whole syllabus, no choice of question was given
Paper 2, 2¼ hours 40%Structured questions with some sections giving the opportunity for 'short essay' answers
Fieldwork 25%Each candidate to submit a personal record of fieldwork; this might involve a number of separate studies or a single extended studyAssessed by teacher and moderated by boards

Modifications

1976/1977 - Home Region sections to take into account the entry of candidates from schools in Yorkshire area.
1978 - revised syllabus conceptually based with the subject matter divided into the following sections: selected world studies; England, Wales, Scotland; studies in northern England; field studies.


[page 105]

GEOGRAPHY2. LONDON/YREB

Years of operation19741975
Number of candidates986880
Grades awarded%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A404.0445.0
} B878.8738.3
} C909.111012.5
CSE221421.714316.2
316416.615417.5
421121.417820.2
510210.310712.1
U787.9718.1

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The aim of the examination was to measure recall, interpretation and application (weighted in the assessment scheme at 80, 50 and 70 respectively). The working party decided upon a written examination where all the questions were compulsory and this had a strong influence on the range of syllabus and choice of themes and areas of study. The areas chosen and their weighting in the written examination scheme were as follows;-

1. Mapwork (10%).
2. Physical Geography of Western Europe (including British Isles) (20%).
3. Regional Studies of British Isles (Yorkshire Region, London) (30%).
4. Regional Studies of Western Europe (France, Netherlands, Norway) (20%).
5. Aspects of African Geography (physical and human) (20%).

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 2½ hours 40%
Structured questions (including opportunity for continuous writing)
All questions compulsory syllabus sections 1, 2, 3
Paper 2; 1¾ hours 26 2/3%
Structured questions (including opportunity for continous writing)
All questions compulsory syllabus sections 4, 5
Coursework assessment 33 1/3%Teachers asked to make 5 assessments over two years on
(i) recall
(ii) interpretation
(iii) application
Pupils then graded on 18 point scale (subdivision of each of six CSE grades into 3)
Moderated by boards

Modifications

Modification in scheme of assessment: coursework assessments to be based on six assessments instead of five and a 24 point grading scale (subdivision of each of three GCE and five CSE grades into 3) to replace 18 point scale.


[page 106]

GEOGRAPHYWJEC

Years of operation19731974197519761977
Number of candidates3104714929973,719
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A}16352.5}24952.9469.3474.72496.7
} B12725.812312.366217.8
} C9519.317417.472019.4
CSE23310.65912.55511.214814.850513.6
3309.75511.76012,2919.142111.3
43711.9469.8326,515215.239510.6
53711.9183.8244,914414.453114.3
U103.2449.35310.811811.82366.3

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

For the 1973 examination the question paper was to be suitable for candidates who had pursued either a CSE or a GCE syllabus; the working party found difficulty in bringing together the two schemes which varied in their aims, their syllabuses and the form of their question papers. The special interim syllabus for the 1973 examination was broadly based on the common elements in the existing syllabuses. These elements are listed in the table below.

Scheme of Assessment

One paper of 3 hours. Candidates to attempt five questions, Question A1, and one from each of sections B, C, D, E.

A Mapwork 20%


B Movements of the earth, landforms, climate 20%
C England, Wales, Scotland 20%
D Geography of the USA or geography of several European countries 20%
E Production and world trade in commodities or problems of settlement and economic development of selected countries 20%
One compulsory question

Choice of question


Choice of question

Choice of question


Choice of question
Items within this question had increasing incline of difficulty
Two types of questions:
(i) questions providing information to test the ability of candidates to handle source material, make deductions
(ii) Structured questions. Each section of the paper made up of questions of same type so that candidates could not avoid various types of question.

Modifications
None

1975 - A new syllabus including aims and objectives was prepared. The five sections are entitled study of OS Maps, United Kingdom, Mathematical and Physical Geography, World Geography and World Problems. A fieldwork element has also been incorporated: candidates are required to submit a personal record of fieldwork for assessment (weighted at 20%).


[page 107]

GEOGRAPHY

4. CAMBRIDGE/EAEB

Years of operation19731974197519761977
Number of candidates1,1041,4992,1681,8206,341
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A454.1362.4552.6643.52413.8
} B18316.617311.51959.121111.06029.5
} C23421.229119.429813.922212.281112.8
CSE220918.921014.033915.934018.71,06416.8
319417.626917.937717.734819.11,55224.5
413111.926817.939618.635119.398215.5
5696.2966.41908.91266.95198.2
U393.515610.431814.71588.75709.0

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Detailed study of the syllabuses of both boards showed considerable differences in the content of Paper 2, in the freedom offered to teachers in the selection of topics and in the types of questions normally used. The syllabus and scheme of assessment therefore included options.

Scheme of Assessment

ALL CANDIDATESPaper 1 40%
2¼ hours
(i) map reading and interpretation
(ii) British Isles
1 compulsory question
3 questions: choice of question
All structured questions
OPTION IIA (CAMBRIDGE syllabus)Paper 2A 60%
2½ hours
(i) Physical geography syllabus
(ii) regional geography of Western Europe or North America or Tropical Africa
3 questions: choice of question
2 questions: choice of question
OPTION IIB (EAEB syllabus)Paper 2B 30%
2¼ hours

PLUS
Assignment 30%
World Studies


Fieldwork/ Local study/ Projects
4 questions: choice of question

Assessed by teachers moderated by board

Modifications

1974 - Scheme of assessment modified as follows:
Paper I (50%) to cover (i) mapwork, (ii) British Isles, (iii) land forms. Mapwork question compulsory and candidates were to answer at least one question on each of the other sections, answering four questions in total.
Paper 2A (50%) to cover (i) regional geography (as for 1973), (ii) weather, climate, soils, 'natural' vegetation. Candidates to attempt 4 questions, at least one from each section.
Paper 2B (25%) covered the World (excluding British Isles) and candidates to attempt two questions. Individual Study (25%) as for 1973.


[page 108]

MODERN LANGUAGES (French)
(Chapter 7)
1. AEB/MREB/MIDDLESEX

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates1,1341,1051,2261,181
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A302.6514.6534.3363.0
} B887.8115lOA1209.814011.9
} C18416.213612.315812.914412.2
CSE217815.719317.521017.119016.1
319417.120518.521217.318015.2
424821.923120.927422.328023.7
5807.1766.9977.91018.6
U13211.6988.91028.31109.3

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The aims and objectives are stated in terms of the 4 skills, the emphasis being on everyday use, and on an appropriate foundation for further study whether for university or professional/vocational purposes. The weighting of the skills reflects this concern to provide a realistic target for the target group. The statement of the content of the syllabus also underlines the view of the target group and its needs, with a list of grammatical structures, distinguishing active and passive uses. The list is intended for guidance, and is not prescriptive.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1
Section A Listening Comprehension
3 passages of c.100 words 20%
Section B Reading Comprehension (Objective Test)
Approx. 40 multiple choice items 25%
Questions aim at 'incline of difficulty'.
Variety of topics and different registers
Some short, some longer passages
Externally marked
Paper 2 25%
Composition
(a) letter in French (100 words)
(b) questions in French based on series of pictures

(c) questions in French based on a French passage
Stimulus letter
Questions aimed to stimulate production of French, not 'merely comprehension'
Externally marked
Paper 3 30%
Oral
(a) Reading aloud 10
(b) questions based on picture series 20
(c) Assignment 20
(d) Conversation 40
Marks 90 ÷ 3
Conducted and marked by teacher
Sample moderation by the boards

Modifications

1975 Paper 1B to include larger number of easier items. Further guidance to be given to teachers on oral test. In 1A the recorded passage was to be the last in the series to ensure 'incline of difficulty'.
Changes in mark scheme to accentuate positive marking.


[page 109]

MODERN LANGUAGES (French)2. ALSEB/JMB/NWREB
(1976 ALSEB/JMB/TWYLREB/YREB)

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates1,6882,5354,3996,389
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A25215.627711.63678.35658.8
} B43425.738615.259013.472311.3
} C30318.044817.071816.31,09117.1
CSE227216.140416.064314.61,16618.2
319711.640616.064814.71,16818.3
41559.226610.565514.91,03916.3
5653.82268.93949.04817.5
U100.61224.83848.71562.4

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The joint examination was based on the syllabus of the two CSE boards and JMB syllabus B because of their similarity of aims, techniques and emphasis. The syllabus contained a statement of the objectives of a language examination in terms of the four skills and emphasising vocabulary and subject matter within the candidate's experience. A statement of the vocabulary and grammar with which the candidates were to be familiar was added in 1977.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, Free Composition
(a) Composition -140 words 25%
(b) A letter - 80 words 10%
Choice of topics and stimuli including visual stimuli. One topic compulsoryExternal marking
Paper 2, Comprehension
(a) Listening Comprehension 15%
(b) Reading Comprehension 15%
All to be attemptedObjective questions graded in difficulty; machine marked.
Oral
(a) Reading aloud 5%
(b) Conversation
(i) Prepared questions 10%
(from the 72 set out)
(ii) Single pictures with questions 10%
(iii) General questions on set subjects - e.g. discussion of book, film, radio, TV Personal interests 10%
Taped at the centre and externally marked.
Substantial guidance including list of topics, questions

Modifications

A detailed list of structures and vocabulary was added in 1977 (as in LONDON/YREB scheme). Equal weighting of the 4 skills (in line with LONDON/YREB). Revision of paper 1 (stimulus letter and picture composition) and of oral (list of topics).


[page 110]

MODERN LANGUAGES (French)4. LONDON/YREB

Years of operation19741975
Number of candidates444250
Grades awarded%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A16437.0166.4
} B3915.6
} C4016.0
CSE28719.65421.6
36614.74216.8
45913.32911.6
5388.52610.4
U306.741.6

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

A detailed syllabus was set out, providing both vocabulary and structures together with indications as to their active and passive uses. The aim of the examination was to test the 4 skills separately and to test them as far as possible by questions in ascending order of difficulty.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1
A Listening Comprehension 25%
B Reading Comprehension 25%
Objective questionsMachine marked
Paper 2, Composition 25%
(i) 5 Pictures
(ii) Letter 90-100 words
(iii) Picture Composition 120-130 words
All compulsoryExternally marked
Oral test 25%
(i) 2 role-playing
(ii) 6-frames narrative
(iii) 5 question per pictures
(iv) General questions leading from pictures
'Random' selection of picture stimuli (chosen 'unseen' by candidates)Externally marked

Modifications

1975 - In the oral test the topics for general conversation were broadened slightly.
1976 - Some elements of this examination were incorporated in the ALSEB/JMB/YREB/TWYLREB Scheme 2.


[page 111]

MODERN LANGUAGES (French)5. OXFORD/SREB

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates1,2481,396833SREB 149
OXFORD 273
Grades awarded%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A897.145932.923428.1Separate
examin-
ations
} B16213.0
} C1229.8
CSE227021.625118.017320.8
318915.123116.519022.8
419415.521415.313516.2
516413.114210.2708.4
U584.6997.1313.7

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The objectives are implied in the content of syllabus which concerns itself with the type of language with which the candidates should be familiar, namely, that used in everyday surroundings by reasonably well-educated speakers. Passive knowledge is to be demonstrated by comprehension of the spoken and written words, active knowledge by skill in the use of spoken and written language.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 1 hour 25%
Listening comprehension
2 multiple choice tests of items (in French) of varying difficulty and lengthObjective marking common to both boards
Paper 2, 1 hour 25%
Reading comprehension
1 multiple choice test of items (in French) of varying difficulty and lengthas above
Paper 3, 15-20 mins. 25%
Oral
Reading aloud; role playing; picture narrative; 100 prepared questions (10); conversation topic (3 of 12)Double marking:
1. SREB, teacher assessed with 50% visiting moderation.
2. OXFORD, tape recordings of all candida tes marked by examiners
Paper 4, 1½ hours 25%
Written composition
2 compulsory questions
(a) reply to letter
(b) picture composition
Double marking:
1. SREB, initial teacher assessment (with mark scheme); moderation in pairs after agreement trial
2. OXFORD, marked by 1 examiner

Modifications

1975 - 100 questions element omitted from the oral and topics grouped into categories; SREB moderation conducted via taped samples. For the composition paper a new marking scheme was adopted by OXFORD.
From 1977 the examination ceased to be conducted on a consortium basis.


[page 112]

MODERN LANGUAGES (German)6. CAMBRIDGE/EAEB

Years of operation197519761977
Number of candidates730777887
Grades awarded%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A111.5131.6161.8
} B7510.37710.09710.9
} C15421.113517.414416.2
CSE215321.019224.717219.4
313518.416120.716919.1
410314.19812.617419.6
5527.1587.5657.3
U476.4435.5505.6

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

A general syllabus and specimen papers were produced. They reflect the main aim of communication and the basic objectives of comprehension -listening and reading with understanding and expression - speaking and writing the language.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, Comprehension, 1½ hours 50%
A Listening comprehension
B 1. Translation from German
2. Reading comprehension
2 compulsory passages;
questions and answers in English
1 compulsory passage;

1 compulsory passage;
questions and answers in English
Marked externally
Paper 2, Composition, 1½ hours 20%
A Picture description


B Picture narrative composition
3 unrelated pictures; answers prompted by questions in German;
basic vocabulary and syntax
Sequence of 6 pictures for narrative in past tense
Marked externally


As in O Level but with lower weighting
Oral 30%
Reading aloud
Syllabus questions
Picture questions
Conducted, taped and marked by teachers and moderated externally

Modifications

1976 Grading of questions according to difficulty.
1978 Writing to be given greater weighting.


[page 113]

MODERN LANGUAGES (German)7. WJEC

Years of operation197519761977
Number of candidates305521743
Grades awarded%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A3210.5224.2344.6
} B3310.8265.0466.2
} C6019.78115.514920.0
CSE23310.8305.88811.8
3309.81915.28711.7
43812.58616.58110.9
53912.89518.29713.0
U4013.110219.616121.7

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

No syllabus was laid down; the preparation of candidates was to be guided by the form of the examination.

Scheme of Assessment

Basically, the more difficult options entailed response in German or response to a stimulus of greater difficulty. A total of 100 marks could be gained by candidates choosing option (a) and 84 marks by those choosing option (b).

Paper 1, 1½ hours
Comprehension
Option (a) 30 marks
Option (b) 20 marks
Q1 Optional response to 1 passage of German of
(a) translation (16)
(b) Comprehension in English (10)
Q2 Choice of 2 out of 3 groups of passages of German of graded difficulty:
(a) groups 2 and 3 (14)
(b) groups 1 and 2 (10)
In each case, replies to be in German
Marked by 1 CSE and 1 GCE examiner after their normal marking load
Paper 2, 1¼ hours
Composition 18 marks
Q1 Answers in German to questions on a series of 10 unrelated pictures
Q2 Composition from a choice of outline, letter, picture story
As above
Papers 1 and 2 were taken together
Oral 20 marks1 25 prepared questions, graded in difficulty
2 Picture questions
3 Free conversation based on a topic
Teacher conducted and assessed on a mark scheme provided; sample moderated by tape recording
Listening
Comprehension; 1 hour
Option (a) 32 marks
Option (b) 26 marks
Q1 1 answer to 1 question on each of 10 passages (16)
Q2 Response to a narrative read aloud in German:
(a) in German (16)
(b) in English (10)
As in O Level


[page 114]

CLASSICAL SUBJECTS (Chapter 8)1. JMB/TWYLREB
(1976 also ALSEB, YREB)

Candidates are offered Latin, Classical Studies or Latin-with-Classical Studies

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidatesL
828
CS
252
LCS
154
L
955
CS
424
LCS
239
L
1027
CS
582
LCS
198
L
1000
CS
658
LCS
260
Grades
awarded
GCE A-C and
CSE
Grade 1
600
72.5%
145
57.5%
115
74.6%
698
73.1%
263
62.0%
169
70.7%
762
74.2%
352
60.5%
150
75.8%
760
76.0%
290
44.1%
168
64.6%
CSE Grades 2-5
211
25.4%
86
34.2%
39
25.4%
239
25.0%
125
28.5%
63
26.4%
259
25.2%
185
31.9%
43
21.7%
219
49.4%
325
21.9%
87
33.5%
Ungraded
17
2.1%
21
8.3%
-18
1.9%
36
9.5%
7
2.9%
6
0.6%
45
7.6%
5
2.5%
21
2.1%
43
6.5%
5
1.9%

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The examination syllabuses were designed to enable candidates to show how far they had fulfilled certain aims. Nine aims were given including:
Reading and understanding of simple Latin texts, response to Latin literature (in the original or in translation) understanding of Roman and Greek achievements, life and myths and their influence on the culture of Western Europe.


[page 115]

Scheme of Assessment

LATIN
Paper 1:
Question 1. Comprehension 20%
Question 2. Latin-English translation 45%
Question 3.
(a) English-Latin translation 45%
or (b) Comprehension 35%
20 multiple choice questions, (Comprehension includes grasp of nuances of meaning, particularly in use of subjunctive)
Passage of prose
Sentences
Passage 12 questions, including some translation
Latin-English and English-Latin vocabulary provided
Paper 2:
3 passages (prose and poetry) requiring linguistic understanding and literary appreciation selected from 4 authors' work (previously advised to schools)
6 questions on each passageAllocation of marks printed on the test paper
Externally marked
CLASSICAL STUDIES
Paper 3:
Greek and Latin literature in translation
A choice of questions on 7 set topics
4 questions to be answered
Candidates taking whole paper answer 4 questions
Those taking a half paper answer 2 questions from different topics
Externally marked
Paper 4:
Greek and Roman Civilisation
A choice of questions on 15 set topics

Candidates for LATIN take papers 1 and 2.
Candidates for CLASSICAL STUDIES take papers 3 and 4.

Candidates for LATIN-with-CLASSICAL STUDIES paper 1 or paper 2 plus paper 3 or paper 4 or half of papers 3 and 4.
It is possible to gain 2 awards - LATIN and CLASSICAL STUDIES - by completing all 4 papers.

Modifications:

1976 Project introduced as alternative to half paper 3 and half paper 4.


[page 116]

CLASSICAL STUDIES2. OXFORD & CAMBRIDGE/MIDDLESEX

Years of operation197519761977
Number of candidates247304379
Grades awarded%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A7630.89731.911831.1
} B4919.85518.09324.5
} C6225.17625.08422.2
CSE2218.5216.9349.0
3176.9216.9174.5
4114.5144.6143.7
593.6124.0102.6
U20.882.692.4

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Partly to make the examination accessible to candidates from the full ability range and partly so that the study should complement the JMB/TWYLREB examination, no linguistic element was included. Four distinct aims were identified, emphasising the range of evidence (including literature) on which knowledge and understanding of classical civilisations were to be based. The periods to be covered were for Greece 494-399 BC and for Rome 78 BC-14AD; candidates could choose one or the other or a mixture of both.

Scheme of Assessment

A 'tariff' system was envisaged with no limit on the number of questions which might be attempted and allowing a large number of routes to the total available marks. Highest marks could not be obtained for fewer than four full questions (or their equivalent).

Paper 1
Greek and Roman 100 marks
Civilisation
2 hours
Twenty structured questions with marks stated on question paper; part questions allowing development from fact to evaluation, judgement, and viewsExternally marked
Paper 2
Special Study 100 marks
2 hours
Same rubric, but with questions in pairs - one structured, the other an essay; six topics with two questions to eachExternally marked
or Project 100 marks divided into 4 'criteria'Not necessarily in written form onlyMarked by teacher, moderated by examiners

Modifications

1977 - Rubric spelt out more clearly. A maximum of 6 whole questions (or their equivalent) is laid down.


[page 117]

COMMERCE (Chapter 9)WMEB/JMB

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates1,7301,8282,2713,128
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A714.1884.81195.21223.9
} B29417.025313.828812.735211.3
} C28216.338721.245720.162820.1
CSE229016.833418.342218.656518.0
335620.631117.040417.854417.4
435820.736419.946020.370022.4
5653.7744.1954.21394.4
U140.8170.9261.1782.5

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The aim is to develop the student's apprecIation of his role, locally and nationally, as consumer, producer and citizen. The objectives of the examination are to assess on the basis of a defined body of content, knowledge, comprehension, application as well as clear and logical expression. The statement of syllabus content, drawn from the syllabuses of both boards, includes elements from banking and insurance, business companies and industry, with local, national and international aspects. The role of the student as consumer is stressed.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1, 45 mins 30%
A



B
30 objective items:
19 multiple choice
5 multiple completion
6 matching pairs

10 short answer questions designed to test factual knowledge. All questions are compulsory
Machine marked



Following agreement trial marked by assistant examiner with mark schemes prepared by one of the 2 chief examiners
Paper 2, 1¾ hours 50%5 structured questions, all compulsory, designed to test central themes, comprehension and application of knowledge. Marks will vary with the difficulty of the question or part of the questionAs above
Teacher Assessment 20%'Based on clearly specified abilities and activities' emphasising discussion and use of a range of stimuli in promoting personal responseVariation included to cater for external candidates

Modifications

1. Up-dating of new leglisation in the syllabus.
2. In the examination :
(a) the inclusion of assertion/reason question in paper 1A.
(b) the omission of the ¼ hour gap between the 2 papers.
(c) from 1979 the abilities to be assessed by teachers are suggested rather than stated.


[page 118]

SOCIAL SCIENCE (Chapter 10)AEB/MREB

Years of operation19751976
Number of candidates370602
Grades awarded%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A30.871.2
} B236.2254.2
} C256.8416.8
CSE25414.67011.6
311130.013522.4
49425.412220.2
55615.114524.1
U41.1579.5

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Social science is seen as a vehicle for the development of critical understanding of society and the ability to make balanced judgements. Objectives include the development of skills such as the collection, processing, analysis and interpretation of data, and the understanding of certain sociological, psychological, economic and political concepts.

Topics are intended to demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, and the inter-relationships of the 4 main areas and should be exemplified in the examination questions. They include the individual in society, the family, education, social differences, work and leisure, basic economic and political aspects of Britain. The coursework is intended to 'widen the range of criteria upon which candidates may be assessed'.

Scheme of Assessment

Written Paper2¼ hours (includes reading time) 60%
Section 1 20 marks 15%

2 80 marks 50%

3 40 marks 35%
Compulsory questions comprehension and analysis of variety of data
Choice of 3 from 8 structured questions to cover all main areas of syllabus
Choice of 1 from 5 essay questions designed to integrate the syllabus topics
Normal standardisation and marking procedures
Sections structured in degrees of difficulty
Project 20%

2 minor studies 20%
Based on a subject of the candidate's choice
'In depth' studies related to course work
Internally assessed and externally moderated

Modifications

None


[page 119]

RELIGIOUS STUDIES (Chapter 11)SUJB/MREB/MIDDLESEX

Years of operation19751976
Number of candidates985559
Grades awarded%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A50.4900.0
} B424.1152.7
} C17316.86110.9
CSE217116.613223.6
318818.315227.2
417817.310418.6
5817.9427.5
U14714.3539.5

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

It was agreed that, to attract a representative entry, a 'conventional' syllabus should be produced, based on the Christian religion, but non-denominational. It was divided into three parts:

Part I - landmarks in the life of Jesus; general moral and theological issues in the context of Jesus' ministry, parables etc. (based on St Luke's Gospel).
Part II - the messianic tradition; moral attributes as exemplified in Old Testament personalities.
Part III - the early church or contempoary moral and ethical questions viewed from a Christian standpoint.
Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1 50%
Section A 20 marks

B 16 marks

C 48 marks
20 questions, short answers: no choice
Structured questions, choice, 4 to be attempted
Essay-type questions: choice, 2 to be attempted
Normal procedures
Standardising meetings prior to final marking
Paper 2 50%
Section A 30 marks

B 20 marks


Either C and D or E and F 34 marks
A and B to cover Part II above
Structured questions 3 from 6
One question requiring an essay answer 1 from 3
Choice of questions to cover part III above


[page 120]

CRAFT, DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY
(Design and Craft) (Chapter 12)
1. AEB/TWYLREB

Years of operation197519761977
Number of candidates168302325
Grades awarded%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A106.0134.3123.7
} B1710.1258.3144.3
} C2917.34916.25115.7
CSE22213.19029.88626.5
33319.64916.28827.1
43420.26019.94814.8
5158.9113.6216.4
U84.851.751.5

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Four aims were stated:

- To foster a degree of understanding and expertise in those areas of creative thinking which can be expressed and developed through planning and working with materials.
- To provide situations which encourage pupils to use their practical and intellectual skills in design experiences, operating through a process of analysis, synthesis and realisation in a variety of materials.
- To provide the development of initiative, inquiry, resourcefulness, self-involvement, cooperation, social responsibility and the ability to communicate.
- To encourage students to relate the course to their personal interests and thereby create opportunities to study, experiment and carry out research, into the nature of the world in which they live.
Their aims were then incorporated in 3 sets of objectives.

Scheme of Assessment

Candidates were required to present evidence of work in more than one material and also to attempt all 3 components of the assessment scheme.

Course work 50%Internally graded:
validated by visiting examiner
Three assessed areas
Design folio (40%)
Making Process (20%)
Finished product (40%)
Paper 1 30%Schools able to submit ideas for questions; externally setDesign and Realisation of Design, (equal weighting)
Paper 2 20%ExternalDesign and Communication


[page 121]

CRAFT DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY
(Craftwork - wood)
AEB/SEREB

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates619428586588
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A183.0286.5417.0396.6
} B6911.1368.4559.46611.2
} C7311.85011.77613.06811.6
CSE26310.25212.17212.37312.4
310917.65212.16911.87212.2
417728.618142.221436.520735.2
59214.8143.3294.9386.5
U182.9153.5305.1254.3

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The syllabus, which was preceded by a statement of the aims for teaching woodwork, was not stated in terms of topics, but was classified under the headings (i) knowledge, (ii) operations and (iii) judgements.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1 100 marks
Theory 1½ hours
Multiple-choice and short answer questions
Paper 2 100 marks
Test Piece 3 hours + 1 hour preparation
With a simple design element incorporated
Paper 3 100 marks
Design
The solution to a design problem which is given one term in advance, presented in the form of a design folio
Paper 4 100 marks
Realisation of Design
6 hours spread over 2 or more sessions
In which each candidate makes the article he has designed
Paper 5 200 marks
Coursework
Teacher assessed and externally moderated

Modifications

The working party intended that certain aspects of the exam would be duplicated in these five papers but expected that the exam results would indicate the most appropriate structure for the future. On this basis paper 2 was made optional for the 1975 examination. The other papers remained the same and had the same mark allocations as in 1974.


[page 122]

TECHNICAL DRAWING (Graphical Communication)
(Chapter 13)
1. MREB/LONDON

Years of operation19741975
Number of candidates973297
Grades awarded%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A90.900.0
} B272.831.0
} C13313.7144.7
CSE2555.6279.1
3788.03210.8
422222.85418.2
513213.67525.2
U31732.69231.0

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

It was considered that technical drawing was no longer confined to the areas of building and engineering and that it was possible to develop a subject area extending beyond traditional boundaries and recognizing the importance of communication in a technological society. In view of the change of emphasis the title 'Graphical Communication' appeared more appropriate than 'Technical Drawing'. The syllabus included sections on drawing techniques, related plane and solid geometry, three dimensional representation, drawing as an aid to creativity, dimensioning, conventional and symbolic representation, standards for drawing.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1
2 hours 35%
Section A
Approx. 10 compulsory questions of very simple nature concerned with applied plane and solid geometry
Section B
Choice of 5 from 8 more demanding questions based on applied plane and solid geometry
Section C
Choice of 2 from 5 questions based on other areas of the syllabus
Designed to test the 'grammar' of the language of graphical communication
Paper 2
2 hours 45%
Each of following seven sections contains three questions - a compulsory 'starter' and two others from which candidates choose one
A 3 dimensional design related to school crafts
B building drawing
C surveying
D technical illustrations
E the use of charts, graphs and diagrams
F mechanical engineering
G electrical engineering
Designed to test its 'vocabulary'
Project 20%Project topic to be based on one of the seven areas of study outlined for paper 2 or any other field of study approved by the board. It was envisaged that 15 hours would be devoted to itMarked by the teacher and two independent assessors


[page 123]

TECHNICAL DRAWING2. EAEB/CAMBRIDGE

Years of operation19731974197519761977
Number of candidates7867911,0628152,055
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A405.1374.7595.6344.21135.5
} B12315.69111.515314.49611.728613.9
} C17822.711714.815814.911013.527513.4
CSE212716.210613.418117.014017.232916.0
312716.210112.818317.212515.332515.8
410713.616320.615915.011313.931015.1
5445.68811.1797.4718.71778.6
U445.68811.1908.512615.524011.7

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The existing EAEB and CAMBRIDGE syllabuses were found to be very similar and were used as the basis for the joint examination syllabus.

Scheme of Assessment

Paper 1
2¾ hours 50%
Section A 10% Short questions ranging over the whole syllabus. Candidates were allowed the first hour of the examination to complete as much of the section as they could.
Section B 18% Five questions set on straight forward applications of basic plane and solid geometry, candidates being required to answer three questions.
Section C 11% Two questions of a problem nature set on plane geometry, candidates being required to answer one question.
Section D 11% Similar to section C, but questions were on solid geometry.
Paper 2
2½ hours 50%
There were four compulsory questions testing the following principal area:
Question 1 The preparation of sections of a pump given detailed drawings of each part. 50 marks
Question 2 Making orthographic views of a component from a pictorial sketch. 25 marks
Question 3 The preparation of an isometric drawing of a simple component drawn in third angle orthographic projection. 15 marks
Question 4 Making a freehand drawing on grid paper of the interpretation of a written specification. 10 marks


[page 124]

TECHNICAL DRAWING3. JMB/TWYLREB/YREB

Years of operation19731974197519761977
Number of candidates6557621,1591,1852,854
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A365.5678.8353.0322.7652.3
} B7010.713617.8746.41129.51705.9
} C8412.814719.316914.819816.737913.3
CSE212519.110413.611610.015413.037213.0
312318.814218.614512.519716.651017.9
411517.511415.025121.723119.555619.5
58212.5425.531727.317815.051418.0
U203.0101.3524.5837.028810.1

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

(a) Mode I. From a study of the JMB and TWYLREB syllabuses currently in use the working party identified as a 'common core' the whole of the current TWYLREB Mode I syllabus, with some minor amendments.

(b) Since schools following design-centred courses might find that the abilities of their candidates could not adequately be examined under the Mode I examination envisaged, the working party agreed to consider Mode III or Mode II proposals.

Schemes of Assessment

(a) Mode I

Paper 1 33 1/3%
1½ hours
Comprehension
Thirteen compulsory questions
Paper 2 33 1/3%
1½ hours
Geometrical Drawing
Section A Seven compulsory questions
Section B Choice of two from three
Section C Choice of two from three
Paper 3 33 1/3%
1½ hours
Engineering Drawing
One question with 6 parts

(b) Mode III

Schools were offered two options for assessment and moderation of work:

(i) The assessment of candidates' work is made by the teacher and subsequently validated by inter-school assessment. This procedure involves a visit to the school by an inter-school assessor from another school within the same local group to assess a sample of 20 candidates' work which has previously been assessed by the school assessor. Subsequently the assessments are moderated by the two Awarders.
(ii) The assessment of candidates' work (made by the teacher) is moderated by reference to the performance of the group of candidates in the Mode I paper 1 (Comprehension).


[page 125]

HOME ECONOMICS (Chapter 14)1. JMB/TWYLREB
(1976 YREB also)

Years of operation19731974197519761977
Number of candidates9521,7532,2322,3154,343
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A848.8683.9813.6552.4942.2
} B13514.21679.51888.42078.93888.9
} C18419.321112.044319.950321.775017.3
CSE219520.553930.853824.139216.983219.1
317518.441623.750522.651722.41,01423.4
414515.219411.136616.437516.268215.7
5272.81257.1974.424310.549011.3
U70.8331.9140.6231.0932.1

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The general aims were to develop sound training in home management and social responsibility. The syllabus was designed to be common to all candidates and to be studied at various depths appropriate to the needs of the individual. It was divided into four sections: The Home, Consumer Education, Food and Nutrition, Personal and Community Care.

Scheme of Assessment

Written Examination Theory 25%
- Short answer questions - from all or part of syllabus
- Choice of 2 out of 5 questions from sections A and B of syllabus
- Choice of 2 out of 5 questions from sections C and D
Course Work 25%
To cover the work, other than practical work; done by the candidates during the 2 year course
Although the 2 year work is involved, greater weight to be attached to the 5th form outputAssessed by teacher according to stated criteria. Non-validated, but sample folders available at agreement trials
Practical Work 50%
An overall assessment of practical work carried out by the candidate
Teacher assessment made according to stated criteriaThe teacher grade to be moderated by an externally set practical validating test.
All candidates to take test; sample selected for assessment by inter-school assessor


[page 126]

NEEDLECRAFT AND DRESS (Chapter 15)1. CAMBRIDGE/EAEB

Years of operation19731974197519761977
Number of candidates6257839576981,287
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A8012.8536.8515.3304.3866.7
} B7912.714618.717918.79914.223918.6
} C13521.715119.315516.211316.221216.4
CSE213621.815820.218819.713519.323818.5
39014.411815.114014.611816.922117.2
4538.58110.3939.78912.814711.4
5223.9222.9576.0679.6735.7
U376.0648.2949.8476.7715.5

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

The syllabus 'comprised the considerable common content of existing syllabuses of the Board and the Syndicate'. Time restraint precluded any other approach in the initial stages.

The present syllabus is listed under 10 content headings, such as dress and fabrics, style, care of clothing and personal grooming, equipment and processes.

Scheme of Assessment

Theory paper, 2 hours 35%Section A
One compulsory multi-part question
Section B
4 structured questions 3, to be attempted
Practical test, 3 hours 40%
(Preparation period ¾ hour)
Based on a unit of a garment rather than a half garment
Preparation period for cutting out and marking
Course work 25%Two garments or an outfit of up to three garments to be submitted
Teacher assessed, and moderated externally by the board


[page 127]

ART (Chapter 16)1. WJEC

Years of operation19731974197519761977
Number of candidates3664074592,9684,693
Grades awarded%%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A4311.756I13.85612.245015.263713.5
} B9225.17418.28618.750116.981117.3
} C11732.010826.514732.044915.186618.5
CSE2195.2327.900.036312.272715.5
34813.15413.3204.447315.974815.9
4174.64410.88618.737012.53748.0
5277.4266.45411.82307.83196.8
U20.8133.2102.21324.42114.5

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

A new syllabus based on the existing WJEC CSE syllabus was used, classified under five headings:

(a) Composition (including two-dimensional design).
(b) Study from observation.
(c) Three-dimensional designs.
(d) Graphics.
(e) Fabric Crafts.
Scheme of Assessment

The examination was made up of two components: assessment of course work (30%) and a practical examination (70%). Both were assessed by the teachers, and these assessments moderated by visiting assessors.

Each candidate's submitted coursework had to include examples from at least two sections of the syllabus.

Modifications

1975 - The weightings became 50% in each case.
1976 - A written alternative to the practical test was made available based on a Course of study called 'appreciation'.


[page 128]

ART2. JMB/ALSEB/NWREB
(NWREB until 1975; from 1976 TWYLREB, YREB)

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates1,8331,9047,65010,126
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A24013.126714.05757.58208.1
} B36019.641221.61,02113.31,15511.4
} C53929.456329.61,86524.41,91818.9
CSE228915.830716.11,60421.02,03620.1
320511.220610.81,36917.91,98019.6
41246.71135.993512.21,47514.6
5412.2271.42252.96316.2
U352.090.5560.71111.1

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

A general description of the subject and a statement of principles underlying the scheme were provided. Candidates were given the choice of either, a relatively broad study of at least two areas or, a study of relative depth of one area supported by a study (not necessarily related) in another area or other areas. A list of 18 suggested areas of study was given.

Schemes of Assessment

There is no formal examination. Each candidate mounts an exhibition of work produced during the course, including identified work done during the final eight weeks before assessment.

The work of each candidate was seen by three assessors, one being a pupil's own teacher. The assessors work in groups of schools and on a basis of a detailed system of agreement trials.


[page 129]

MUSIC (Chapter 17)AEB/TWYLREB

Years of operation1974197519761977
Number of candidates254194242206
Grades awarded%%%%
GCE and
CSE
Grade 1
} A72.8157.73514.5188.7
} B155.9178.82711.22512.1
} C2710.6178.84819.84220.4
CSE24818.93920.15924.45124.8
36224.43618.63815.73918.9
43112.23719.0208.2188.7
5239.12613.483.362.9
U4116.173.672.973.4

Aims, Objectives, Syllabus

Sections 1-4 are compulsory and include ensemble playing, musical literacy, practical musicianship and musical knowledge. In sections 5-9 any 2 sections may be taken from: performance, harmony, form and history, composition and individual study. Detailed elements are provided for each section, including lists of works.

Scheme of Assessment

Section
1. Ensemble playing
Any instrument, solo, groupsParticipation is a condition of entry, but not counted in final assessment
2. Musical literacy , 30 mins 20%Written answers to questions on pieces of recorded musicMarked externally
3. Practical musicianship 20%Aural work, with written answersConducted by a visiting assessor
4. Musical knowledge 20%Recognition of themes from a range of worksAs above
5. Performance 20%Includes sight readingAs above
6. Harmony, 1½ hours 20%Basic requirements: writtenMarked externally
7. Form and history, 1½ hours 20%3 parts in incline of difficulty. Written paper, including essayAs above
8. Composition 20%Submission prior to examDiscussion with visiting assessor
9. Individual study 20%Wide rangeAs above

Modifications

Syllabus: Changes mainly in the choice of musical 'texts'. Minor amendments made to reduce 'bunching'.
1979 - The ensemble playing requirement removed because of problems of geography and administration.


[page 131]


REPORT OF THE COST STUDY GROUP




[page 132]

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

1. In writing to the Schools Council about their proposals for a common system of examining at 16+, one of the points made by the Secretary of State was that some estimate needed to be made of the extra costs that might be involved in changing over to and operating such a system. Our task has been to consider the costs of examining under the present dual system (CSE and GCE O Level) and to report our findings, with recommendations as to how these might assist the Steering Committee in costing possible models of a future common system of examining at 16+ and in assessing any changeover costs.

2. To meet these objectives we have used the services of a small team of professional accountants and, where appropriate, also enlisted the help of HM Inspectorate. They in turn have received the cooperation of the CSE and GCE examining boards, individual teachers in a small number of schools, and officials of the local education authorities maintaining those schools. In all we met 8 times to devise our approach, to consider the data provided and to prepare our report.

3. Our remit was a limited one. We were asked to look at present costs and consider how these might help in predicting future ones; in fact we go rather beyond this in Chapter 3 and offer some fairly speculative figures on the range of costs of various possible features of a common system. Our task was not to produce a cut and dried costing of a common system, since the Steering Committee saw its role as falling well short of providing a blueprint for the administration of such a system, and intended to confine itself to stating certain principles and objectives which any administrative organisation would need to observe and fulfil; it was rather to provide the basis for a broad indication, in terms of ranges of costs, of the likely effect of changing to and operating a common system.

4. Our task was undertaken against a background of work already done by the Schools Council. Their approach had, however, used fee income as proxy for the overall costs of the examining boards and in so doing they had encountered a number of problems, in particular that of isolating the O Level costs of the GCE boards. Our exercise was specifically designed to overcome this difficulty. We concluded that an essential first step was to undertake a full analysis of the recurrent expenditure, staff and premises of all examining boards in 1976, the last complete year; and that such an analysis could only stem from a special information gathering exercise. It was agreed that there would be advantage in drawing on the services of accountants for this purpose. The Department made available one of its professional staff, Mr Alcock, and he was joined by Mr Squires and Mr Slight from the local authority field; Mr Fielden and Mr Thorp of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Company, were also brought into the exercise on a consultancy basis.


[page 133]

5. Under our guidance, this team visited between them all the GCE and CSE boards at least once over a period of 4 months to discuss with them the problems of stating their expenditure in a form settled by us in advance to ensure a common basis and uniformity of treatment. By and large we believe that the boards are satisfied with the broad basis on which the costings were done. As indicated in paragraph 2, the team also visited, in company with HM Inspectors, a number of schools and local education authorities. The amount of time that could be allocated to these latter visits was limited and we would not claim that the findings from them are more than a rough guide. Their purpose was to find out in the limited time available as much as possible about the examination costs arising within the schools for which the examining boards make no payment often referred to in our report (and elsewhere) as the 'hidden' costs of examining. The largest single element in such costs is teacher time.

6. The information from all the visits is summarised in Chapter 2. This contains only a part of the statistical and other material collected, but the whole body of it is lodged within the Department for use as necessary at a later stage if a common system is developed. The main object of the fact finding and analysis was, of course, to provide a foundation from which we could build up our advice on the range of possible costs involved in changing to and running a common system. In order to do this, and to make recommendations about the use of the information gathered, it was necessary to postulate possible models for such a system and to develop a range of assumptions. We therefore sought your advice and that of the Educational Study Group (which had been set up at the same time as ourselves) on a number of points relating to the administration of a common system and possible changes in the form and number of examinations that might result under such a system. The replies reinforced our expectation that for most important elements our costings could only be illustrative of the range of additional costs - or savings - that might result from the adoption of various options under a common system. Our figures in Chapter 3 therefore provide the Steering Committee with raw material which could be used in giving an order of magnitude to the costs involved in a particular solution.

7. Other and more intangible factors obtain. The data from the examining boards and schools provide a snapshot of practices and activity in a particular year and our figures for a common system are in terms of that year. No attempt has been made to take into our costings factors - such as declining school rolls, changes in the 'take-up' of examinations and economic factors likely to affect the future costs of examining whether or not a common system is introduced, although we do discuss such factors in general terms at the end of Chapter 3. And where we have made assumptions about the future we have tended to do so on the basis of minimum change. For example, for the most part we have not assumed any change in the staffing complements of boards as a result of moving to a common system, although we recognise in Chapters 3 and 4 that such changes are likely to result.

8. The focus of our consideration has therefore been the costing of different elements of examining activity, distinguishing the variable from the fixed costs. Our concern has been to illuminate where we can the range of possible changes in expenditure on those elements, even where the extremes of a range may seem


[page 134]

to us highly unlikely to obtain in practice. Because of the many imponderables, however, we have not for the most part indicated points between the extremes where we consider the level of expenditure most likely to fall. Nevertheless, we have indicated the total maximum and minimum possible costs of a common system, based on our assumptions. These are extreme values and we regard both figures as unrealistic. The cost seems certain to fall somewhere in between, and would depend of course on the many decisions that would be required at various levels in implementing a common system. We have therefore thought it sensible to confine ourselves to providing relevant basic information, some suggested techniques for using that information, the application of those techniques to possible models of a common system, and a store of additional data for use by the educational system after the Steering Committee has reported.





[page 135]

CHAPTER 2: COSTS IN 1976

I EXAMINATION BOARD COSTS

9. The examination boards do not publish financial information in a standard form. Their examination and operating procedures vary considerably, and even when two boards adopt similar procedures there are likely to be differences in the way they allocate costs to the various heads of expenditure. The capital value of accommodation and equipment is rarely recorded in the printed accounts, and where resource costs (usually teacher time) fall on the school rather than the board, no details are published by either body.

10. A quantitative analysis of costs could therefore only come from a special information gathering exercise. We authorised a team of accountants to visit all the examining boards and, in consultation with their accountants and finance officers, to make an analysis of their expenditures on a common basis; and to assess what part of each board's expenditure was devoted to 16+ examinations*. To assist the team in this task a detailed questionnaire was devised and piloted before being used for the visits to the boards. We are most grateful to all boards for the cooperation they extended to the team throughout this exercise.

11. Our questionnaire was in the form of 4 schedules, attached at Annex A. It will be seen that these classified board expenditures as direct or indirect. Direct expenditure is incurred on the actual processes of examining; indirect expenditure is incurred in keeping the board in being as an organisation rather than in such processes. The main items of expenditure under these two headings are listed on Schedule I. Where boards' accounts were kept in the format and detail set out in the schedules, full use has of course been made of the material. But for many items in many boards they were not, and where this was so it was necessary to use accountancy methods to enable the data to be shown in the form we required. This has of course involved certain assumptions being made; there may also be differing interpretations between boards as to whether certain items of expenditure are properly classed as direct or indirect. But these factors are unlikely to have produced major inaccuracies. It will be seen that the schedules do not provide any apportionment of indirect expenditure; the information was made available but we have not made use of it, since the apportionment would not have been helpful in costing proposed changes in organisation.

12. The direct expenditure totals from Schedule I have been analysed on Schedules II and III. Schedule II states the direct expenditure on non 16+ examinations and on 16+ overseas examinations; Schedule III states direct expenditure on 16+ examinations in England and Wales. A separate Schedule III was prepared for each mode wherever the subject entries were 5% or more of the board's total.

*Excluding overseas examinations.


[page 136]

13. The division of direct expenditure between the headings and the columns of the Schedules II and III involved a measure of apportionment. Many items of expenditure (eg the payment to an individual examiner for marking a batch of scripts) were capable of being allocated, ie allotted in full to a 'cost centre' - this being an operation or activity with ascertainable costs, such as the marking of Mode I examination scripts. Some items of expenditure could not be allocated to a single cost centre and had to be apportioned between two or more of them. A good example of this is the division of a chief examiner's fees between modes or between such activities as the preparation of examination papers, marking, and setting grade boundaries. Generally, the amount of apportioning in respect of payments to examiners and teachers was small.

14. The intention behind Schedule IV was to discover how the size and style of a board's examinations, taking three subjects (English, mathematics and biology) as an example, affected unit costs. Not all boards were able to provide the information requested in the form and detail needed. Nevertheless, the information supplied on this schedule has proved most useful in relation to the assumptions that have been made about fixed and variable elements of fees to examiners and teachers in Chapter 3.

15. In order to ensure that all the boards understood what was required and were adopting, as far as was practicable, a consistent approach to the completion of the schedules, it was decided that each should be visited by a member of the team of accountants. This proved particularly useful in avoiding unnecessary work for the boards, in discussing problems of allocation and apportionment, and in discovering differences in accountancy procedures and styles of examining.

16. The basis of the exercise has, however, affected the figures obtained in some specific ways. For example, the relationship between fixed costs (such as the salaries of boards' staff and the leasing and maintenance of premises) and costs which vary with the size of the subject entry (typically, fees for examiners and teachers) would have been better perceived over a period of years rather than by taking 1976 alone. Also, the 21 boards* work on the basis of 8 different financial years, although their major expenditure on home 16+ examinations is invariably incurred in the summer months. Nevertheless, we do not believe these factors and the problems of categorising the boards' information seriously undermine the validity of the findings in this chapter and the tabulations of the outcome of the exercise which are attached as Annex B. We consider that these provide a sufficiently accurate picture of present board costs for the Steering Committee's purpose.

The Expenditure Pattern

17. Most of the categories into which expenditure has been divided are self-explanatory: but those which relate to the processes of examining may benefit from some amplification. Boards were asked to bring together their direct costs under five headings:

a. syllabuses

    - construction, review, printing and distribution of syllabuses and schemes of examination;

*Regarding the WJEC as one board for accounting purposes.


[page 137]

b. examinations

    - arrangements for and the conduct of examinations, including the costs of:
      - setting and printing examination papers
      - pre-testing/banking objective-type and other questions
      - tapes, maps, answer books and other examination material
      - packing and distribution
      - appointment of examiners, moderators, assessors and revisers
      - preparing, printing and distributing examination instructions, timetables, memoranda, etc;

c. marking

    - marking and handling scripts, practical work, oral tapes and course work
    - revising, checking and standardising marking
    - visiting centres to validate course work, supervise oral and practical examinations, etc;

d. setting of grade boundaries

    - determining and awarding grades, including the cost of meetings and appeals machinery;

e. results

    - publication of results and the issue of certificates, including the cost of printing and despatching.

18. Throughout the exercise the unit of volume used is the subject entry. The cost per subject entry for a particular category of expenditure has been identified and is widely used in the following analysis for the purposes of comparison.

19. We have confined ourselves in this report to studying only those figures of examining board expenditure which are relevant to the consideration of a common system. The tables in Annex B provide a more detailed analysis of board costs in 1976.

Total Board Expenditure

20. The total expenditure of the boards is summarised in the table below. Regarding the WJEC as two boards, the 14 CSE and 8 GCE boards spent about £21m in 1976 in processing over 8m subject entries of all types and at all levels. Of this total the CSE boards processed 2.65m at a cost of £6.5m, and the GCE boards 5.49m at a cost of nearly £14.5m. With their A Level and overseas business and their winter examinations, the GCE boards generally operate on a larger scale than the others and only 10% of their total expenditure was devoted to the indirect costs of administration as against 17% for the CSE boards.

Table 1

1976


[page 138]

TOTAL DIRECT EXPENDITURE


[page 139]

21. The direct expenditure of the boards on 16+ examinations and of the GCE boards on all examinations is shown in the histogram on the page opposite [link above]. The non-16+ activity of the CSE boards has been ignored as it accounts for only about £150,000 throughout the system. With the exception of SUJB (which had the lowest expenditure of all boards) the total expenditure of every GCE board was higher than that of any CSE board.

Total 16+ Expenditure

22. Of the total CSE direct expenditure of £5.1m, £4.9m was incurred in processing 2.6m 16+ examination subject entries. GCE boards spent £6.0m out of their total of £12.2m on processing 3m 16+ subject entries. Even when the direct expenditure on 16+ examinations is compared, 5 of the GCE boards remain well above all others in size.

23. Diagram A following gives the total direct cost per subject entry for each board in relation to the size of its operation. If the WJEC figures are excluded as a special case (ie in that it runs both GCE and CSE examinations) the range of total direct costs is from £1.43 (TWYLREB) to £2.63 (ALSEB) on the CSE side; and from £1.54 (SUJB) to £2.15 (London) on the GCE side. The diagram shows no close relationship between size and total cost per subject entry. One of the lowest such costs was for the smallest of the boards - the SUJB - and the highest was for the smallest CSE board - ALSEB. The 5 largest (GCE) boards were all among the most expensive in these terms, and although among the CSE boards there is perhaps some discernible relationship between size and economy the evidence is inconclusive. However, a crucial factor in these costs for all boards is the style and type of service each provides. Approaches to the processes of examining vary greatly, with implications for costs. For example, the low cost for the SUJB should be seen against their policy that candidates sit only a single paper in many examinations, whereas other boards set 2 papers per candidate for most examinations; in this context the SUJB's unit costs for payments for examiners and for printing and stationery etc may be thought less out of line with other boards' costs than at first appears. At the other end, ALSEB's high costs are in part explained by the degree of control it exercises as a board over school-based assessment, as indicated below in paragraph 26.

24. Consideration of the direct salaries costs per subject entry (Diagram B) indicates a closer relationship between size and cost. These costs account for 46p per subject entry for the CSE boards as a whole, and 44p per subject entry for the GCE boards. However, 6 CSE boards have a higher salaries and wages unit cost than any GCE board; and all 6 are among the 7 smallest CSE boards. By contrast, 4 of the largest CSE boards have a unit cost of 31p or less, which are among the lowest figures. The notable exception to this general rule is the TWYLREB CSE board, which is one of the smallest boards and has the lowest (21p) unit cost for direct salaries and wages. The reason for this might be found in the board's policy of delegating what would normally be board committee and panel work to groups and committees of teachers, the cost of these activities thus being transferred to the schools as a 'hidden' cost of examining.

25. This leads naturally to a consideration of whether the proportion of Modes I and II work to Mode III work within a board has a significant effect on direct costs, and suggests that the result is likely to be inconclusive, since the


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Diagram A

TOTAL DIRECT COST PER SUBJECT ENTRY


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Diagram B

Diagram B: DIRECT SALARIES COST PER SUBJECT ENTRY


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true costs may not show up in the board's accounts. But figures in the table below are nevertheless relevant to our purpose. They show that the incidence of Mode III varies greatly between boards - from 70.5% in TWYLREB to 10.3% in the WMEB, but with the NREB having the second highest total at the relatively low figure of 38.8%. Both these Mode III-oriented boards show a lower cost per subject entry for their Mode III work than for their Mode I. But generalisation is difficult, since the board with the next highest incidence of Mode III is EAEB, where the cost is double that for its Mode I work; and then EMREB, where the costs per subject entry of Mode III and Mode I are identical. It is likely that, in some instances at least, low Mode III costs mask a transfer from board expenditure to 'hidden' costs in schools.

Table 2
Direct Costs per Subject Entry for English CSE Boards, 1976

1976

26. Thus the effect of Mode III on costs does not admit of any straightforward conclusions, although the evidence we offer in part II of this chapter, on 'hidden' costs, does support the view that Mode III work is very consuming of teachers' time. But within the context of board costs the situation is obviously more subtle and, as we noted in paragraph 15, differences in style of examining and board involvement must be assumed to affect costs. This is true in a general sense (ie such differences affect Mode I costs as well) but for Mode III the extent to which the board concerns itself in operating the system is likely to have important cost implications. A board's involvement may range from being concerned in each and every stage of Mode III preparation and examining, to settling only the final grades given to candidates. ALSEB, for example, pays for an element of teacher assessment in virtually all its examinations, but its overall costs are high because it services all teachers' meetings and processes, prints and proof-reads all papers within the board. It has 33 full-time equivalent staff, compared with 27 and 25 respectively at the other two smallest CSE boards, Middlesex and YREB. On the other hand, EAEB, a large board with 31.5% of its entries in Mode III, does not involve itself heavily in the operation of this work. Many subject panel meetings are held in teacher centres provided free by the local authority, and


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the board's staff do not engage themselves substantially in this work; also the printing of papers is arranged by individual schools, who receive a fee from the board. The combined effect is a smaller expenditure on Mode III than might be expected, although the cost per subject entry for this board is still fairly high. The unit costs for printing and stationery often reflect different approaches by boards (eg in-house or external) and different printers may be used for Mode I and Mode III; as indicated, the schools themselves may print Mode III papers. These factors and variations in commercial rates throughout the country make it difficult to offer a more useful interpretation of these figures in the above table.

Activity Analysis

27. As the schedules indicate, examining boards were asked to categorise their direct expenditure in two ways. The first involved a breakdown into elements such as salaries and wages, computer costs, payments to and expenses of examiners and teachers, other payments relating to examiners' meetings, printing and stationery, carriage and postage; and the second involved an analysis into the main activities of examining, ie setting syllabuses, examinations, marking, setting grade boundaries, and results. The full statement of this analysis is incorporated in the tables annexed to this report, and in view of the amount of detail available we restrict ourselves here to identifying the highest, lowest, and average costs for all modes in what seem to us the most significant areas.

Table 3
Analysis by Type of Expenditure, 1976

CSE BoardsGCE Boards
LowestHighestMeanLowestHighestMean
All payments to teachers and examiners711349684124100
Printing, stationery and materials98729224737
Carriage and postage184397
Salaries and wages2111046266144
Computer42010Nil2010
Other costsNil103Nil52

28. The most striking feature of the figures in this table is that the mean figures reveal a considerable degree of similarity between CSE and GCE boards. For each set of boards payments to teachers and examiners comprise half their expenditure, and salaries and printing costs take up most of the other half. The similarity of the figures for payments to teachers and examiners needs to be seen against the different approaches of the GCE and CSE boards, with the former making few payments to teachers (because of the very small amount of Mode III examining on the GCE side) but making much higher payments to examiners overseeing Mode I examinations.


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Table 4
Analysis of Expenditure by Activities

CSE BoardsGCE Boards
LowestHighestMeanLowestHighestMean
Syllabus preparation231141127
Examinations391336550 91
Marking5317679 9387
Setting grade boundariesNil63182177
Results2157244

29. The above table excludes figures for the AEB, Cambridge, and WJEC boards; the accountants concluded that for these the analysis of costs over the activities of examining would require arbitrary treatment of amounts already apportioned between A Levels, O Levels, overseas, etc. In any case the analysis has not been carried into the models we discuss in Chapter 3, for which it was not indeed needed. We show it here in order to bring out the point that the most expensive activities for all boards are marking scripts and arranging for and conducting examinations.


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II 'HIDDEN' COSTS

30. We use this term to mean the costs of examining which are not shown separately in the accounts of examining boards or local education authorities. They arise mainly within the schools, and their largest single feature is the cost of teacher time for which either no payment is made by boards, or where the payment (mainly by CSE boards for Mode III work) cannot be said to reflect the economic costs involved. Such time may be spent at board committee and/or subject panel meetings; in the preparation of school-based syllabuses and examination papers; and in such course assessment work and marking as is an integral part of CSE and GCE O Level examinations. Other 'hidden' costs might include such items as the use of accommodation for examinations, and the 'cost' of invigilation. But teacher costs are different in kind from the others, in that they represent the time teachers devote to examination work in and out of school. Although some local education authorities operate their secondary school staffing ratios to make them more favourable in the fifth year, in order to take account of examination activity, few if any are believed to make separate or identifiable allowance for the time teachers spend outside their teaching on work in connection with examinations.

31. To ascertain the extent of these 'hidden' costs 23 schools were visited. These included selective, comprehensive and modern schools, of various sizes situated in urban and rural areas, and all the regions covered by the CSE boards were included in the visits. Nevertheless, the time available did not allow a structured selection of schools to be visited, nor was it possible to make sufficient visits to provide the same measure of accuracy that might have been achieved from a full-scale statistically-based survey. Thus the results take no real account of the fact that the deployment of teacher resources varies greatly from one school to another, with the balance between teaching and non-teaching periods often reflecting local circumstances. And, although there is often no readily discernible line between teacher time spent on normal classroom activity and time spent on various examination activities, it was necessary to distinguish between the two for the purpose of the exercise. In practice, this had to be done by relying on the judgements made by the school staffs themselves, who were considering a period which began 15 months beforehand. For all these reasons, we do not suggest that from the information we have acquired generalisations can be made with any confidence.

32. The information supplied by the schools visited was on standard forms, copies of which are at Annex C. These questionnaires were completed by 290 teachers and all the head teachers at 23 schools. Both heads and teachers were invited to comment on the issues raised by the cost of examining. All the heads and 50 teachers did so. The questionnaires covered:

a. a summary of teacher deployment for the whole school;
b. statements by individual teachers of their involvement in examining;
c. estimates of expenditure under such headings as printing, postage, packing and materials; and
d. numbers of pupils entered for examinations by subject, level and mode.
Only a. and b. above are 'hidden' costs within our definition, and these are dealt with in this section: c. is taken into the following section.


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Summary of Teacher Deployment

33. Very little useful information could be obtained about the number of periods per week allocated for activities related to examining. Fifteen schools did not allocate any periods for the purpose and no firm evidence was available about whether or how individual teacher timetables in these schools were weighted to make allowance for examination workloads; or about the extent to which staff had to be covered by other teachers when away at board/panel meetings or otherwise engaged on examination work during school hours. It can only be said in general terms that several heads allocated the relatively high proportion of non-teaching periods for certain teachers with responsibility for examinations, in terms of heavy amounts of examination administration work; that examination activity taking teachers away from the classroom puts pressure on other teachers; and that if it is separately remunerated, the necessity for other teachers to cover the absence can put a strain on staff goodwill.

34. Of the eight schools which made specific allowance for examination administration, two set aside four periods per week, and one each set aside 2, 5, 6, 9, 10 and 12 periods.

35. The schools were also asked to provide figures for the numbers of periods actually taken up with the running of GCE O Level and CSE examinations in 1976-77, both within the school and elsewhere. The work within the school included all examination administration, course assessment and school-based examinations' preparation and assessment; that outside covered board, committee and subject panel meetings, board courses, agreement trials and visits to other schools as examiners and moderators. The results here were more helpful, with 19 schools providing reliable data. The averages and ranges for these schools were:

Average periods per teacher per year
In own schoolOutsideTotal
Average overall11.43.615.0
Lowest2.90.45.1
Highest34.321.841.9

The figures are averages for all the teachers at all the schools. Obviously they conceal the fact that some teachers had a heavy involvement in examining and others none at all. The heavy involvement is principally in the autumn and in May/June.

The Involvement of Individual Teachers in Examining

36. The approach of the visits was to take, on the advice of the head, a selection of teachers involved in examinations at each school, but including at all schools all the teachers of English; at nine schools all the teachers of biology were also included.

37. The commitment of teachers to active involvement in examinations is part of the whole amount of energy available for development work in school. One head had made the comment that 'the greater the involvement of staff the greater the entry rate and the greater the demand on fixed resources'. There was some feeling among teachers that the returns gave an inadequate picture of the time


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and effort expended on some Mode III examinations work; one suggested 100-120 hours a year was needed for a Mode III paper. The decision to undertake such work is of course at the discretion of the teachers; but the general administration of examinations is unavoidable, and comments stressed the amount of time a teacher with an overall responsibility for examinations may spend on this.

38. The teachers were most helpful in providing returns but we have decided on balance not to offer any analysis of these. Not only was the sample too small to have any statistical validity, but the figures provided were themselves subject to considerable uncertainties; inevitably so when it is remembered that they reflected statements of recollections going back 15 months, and perhaps differing interpretations of what was examination work and what was not. The broad impression given by the returns was, however, clear. It was that the involvement of teachers in preparing syllabuses and syllabus elements, and in the assessment of course work, is very consuming of teacher time; much more so than board-based examination activity. This manifested itself most clearly in relation to Mode III work, where teacher involvement is by definition substantial; but it also showed up in Mode I work, where the time spent on CSE was greater than that on O Level, presumably because CSE Mode I syllabuses generally involve a larger measure of teacher participation. The most marked differences, however, in terms of teacher time per subject entry, were between Mode I examining as a whole and Mode III.

Local Education Authorities

39. There are also 'hidden' costs for examinations activity within the authorities. Visits were made to 20 local education authorities maintaining the schools covered by this section: including seven metropolitan counties, two outer London boroughs, ILEA, eight non-metropolitan counties and two Welsh counties. The basis in each case was one of general enquiry under a number of headings, but it was not found possible to quantify the results in terms of costs and we therefore limit our report on these visits to a general statement. The visits identified 'hidden' costs in relation to personnel, use of premises, and in-service training.

Personnel

40. Most authorities visited attached no separate costing to examinations other than the direct cost of fees. All appeared to be aware of increasing teacher participation in the administration of examinations; one, with the help of the local CSE board, had costed this in terms of teacher time, finding that over a total of 30 secondary schools the cost was equivalent to that of 2.5 teachers per annum. In only two cases had a supply teacher been allowed specifically against teacher absence on examination duties. However, in some authorities teacher absence on such duties may be a factor, among others, contributing to the granting of a supply teacher. None of the authorities visited specifically took account of teacher participation in examinations in calculating the teacher/pupil ratio.


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41. The involvement of LEA officers in duties relating to public examinations was spread over the year, and difficult to cost. Generally, a senior officer would attend a minimum of about four days of CSE board meetings yearly; in two cases advisers were involved in subject panel meetings. To this must be added the time taken for routine administrative functions; these could not properly be costed, but one large urban authority estimated that 10% of a senior officer's time (plus the full time of one clerk) was involved.

One authority quoted the hire of invigilators as a further cost. Preparation of rooms for examinations occasionally entails additional labour costs.

Use of Premises

42. The extent to which authorities are aware of the use of premises for meetings concerned with public examinations varies. On the whole the view is that charges would be notional and consequently no separate budgeting is undertaken. The main use of premises (other than as examination centres) is for standardisation and moderation meetings. At least two authorities arrange for day or half-day closures of schools to accommodate a large number of such meetings. Several also expressed concern at the stress put on accommodation during the examination season; one has to hire halls to accommodate candidates. Schools were occasionally authorised to hire or purchase desks specifically for public examination use.

In-Service Training

43. Three authorities mount courses specifically related to assessment, but these have only incidental bearing on public examinations. In one authority the CSE board was responsible for initiating courses related to its examinations; for this the authority made premises available.

School Direct Expenditures on Examinations

44. An inspection of the questionnaires completed by each of the 23 schools revealed a significant variation in costs arising from the use of additional resources relevant to the examining process; eg printing, packing, postage and materials. These differences are due to several factors, the chief amongst which are:

i. the GCE boards used, their location and policies;
ii. the incidence of Mode III examining.
The actual amounts expended by the schools on these items range from £92 to £767, and as such reflect the various policies followed by the schools concerned. Even at the higher figures this cost is minimal in comparison with the normal full annual budget of a school, but it could be a significant sum in terms of a school's capitation allowance.

45. Generally speaking the vast majority of decisions on examinations matters are left to be determined by the individual schools. There were some instances where a local education authority had either given guidance or issued instructions to schools in its area, but these tended to be on matters that had little effect on costs. It is thus the decisions taken at school level which are largely responsible for the incidence of 'hidden' costs of examining. As one headmaster said, 'it is seen as a self-inflicted penalty outweighed by the freedom of choice'.


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III SCHOOL-LEA OVERT COSTS

LEA Policies

46. Three authorities imposed some limitation on the total number of entries per candidate for which they would pay, and several more refused to pay for 'repeats'. Most discouraged double entry (ie entry for GCE O Level and CSE in the same subject) although only some took this to the extent of refusing to pay for the second entry. Practice in schools tended to allow the parents to pay.

47. Some authorities were becoming aware of the financial effect of school adherence to more than one GCE board for O Level examinations, since this requires a second registration fee to be paid for each candidate. However, only two authorities had specifically discouraged the use of more than one GCE board.

48. Generally, although examinations expenditure is only a small part of their expenditure on education, there was an indication that authorities were becoming more cost conscious in regard to overt costs. Schools were being requested to have regard to total numbers of entries (including double entries and repeats), entries to Mode III (in cases where a minimum number of candidates was laid down by the board) and the number of absentees from examinations.

Provision of Materials

49. Schools are normally expected to meet the costs of materials from their capitation allowances; there were only three examples of separate budgeting for such materials. Authorities were conscious that changes of syllabus requiring changes of textbooks were another burden. With the three exceptions mentioned, no authority visited made allowance specifically in relation to examinations.

50. Of particular concern to some authorities and schools is the cost of printing for Mode III examinations. Practice varies according to the policy of the CSE board. A change of policy by a board may impose a sudden burden on schools.


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CHAPTER 3: COSTING A COMMON SYSTEM

EXAMINATION BOARD COSTS

51. The previous chapter related to the first part of our remit, 'to consider costs of examining under the present dual system (CSE and GCE O Level)'. In this chapter we take the second part, which is to make recommendations as to how our findings 'might assist in costing possible models for a future common system of examining at 16+'. We have approached this task in the knowledge that only very generalised models can be constructed at present, and that the assumptions we make in costing them will be open to question. But as stated in Chapter 1, our aim is not to provide a definitive costing; it is to explore the range of possible costs that might be involved in operating a common system, and to provide a basis for reference and use in developing such a system. Our costings are illustrative, in that they illustrate methods of calculating possible costs rather than any precise pattern of assumed expenditure.

52. Our method in this chapter is therefore to take what seem to us the main considerations that would produce changes in expenditure under a common system, and to cost these at the highest and lowest levels of feasibility. Many of our figures are speculative, and it is not in our minds that they reflect what is likely to happen. They are intended as indicators of the cost implications of certain developments which are theoretically possible, even if often improbable in practical terms. Thus we conclude this chapter with a summary of costs which adds together all the highest figures postulated and the lowest, because without such a summary the figures may be calculated by others and quoted as if they had a reality which we do not believe they possess. Not only do most of the contributory figures contain assumptions which are themselves open to debate, but it is hardly conceivable that, even if the assumptions proved correct, all the most extreme circumstances would combine to produce a result at one end of the range, or at the other.

53. The costings in this chapter are based on the supposition that a common system of examining was in operation in 1976. The pattern of boards' expenditure on 16+ examinations in England and Wales and the levels of subject entries were as follows:


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Table 5

1976

For the purposes of this section, the administrative, salaries and premises costs of the GCE boards which cannot be directly attributed to 16+ work have been apportioned in the ratio that the boards' 16+ direct costs bear to their non-16+ direct costs. The apportionment is thus notional; it expresses the cost of 16+ examinations as a share of the boards' total costs. It does not imply that these would have been the real costs of setting up the 16+ examinations on their own.

Changes Likely Irrespective of Administrative Organisation

54. The introduction of a common system would probably influence the number of subject entries in two ways. Firstly, the elimination of double entries would reduce the total; secondly, winter entries would be likely to increase. Taking these two points in turn:

Double entries

The extent of double-entering pupils is not known but the evidence available is that it lies somewhere between a minimum of 1 per cent of total entries and a maximum of 5 per cent. These estimates imply a potential reduction in the number of subject entries of between 56,000 and 280,000.

Winter entries

These for GCE boards were just under 5 per cent of all entries (ie GCE and CSE combined) in 1976. It is not known what proportion of such entries were resits, or what effect (if any) a decision to limit winter examinations under a common system to resits in major subjects would have. It might cause a small reduction in the total; but against this must be assumed the tendency for the number to increase, as resit examinations became available to CSE (as well as GCE) candidates. A reasonable range of assumptions therefore seems to be from no increase in numbers to an increase from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent of all entries. This would add from nil up to 140,000 subject entries.


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55. The above assumptions combine to give revised subject entries of:

(thousands)Minimum
Cost Assumption
Maximum
Cost Assumption
Existing numbers5,6155,615
Double entries-280-56
Winter examinationsNil140
5,3355,699

It is estimated that these volume changes would affect the expenditure of the examining boards to the following extent:

Table 6

Changes Likely as a Result of Changes in Administrative and Educational Arrangements

56. The guidance we have received is that examining boards are likely to come together in groups for the purpose of offering common 16+ examinations. There are certain general cost implications of board grouping which need to be considered before we explore the effects of specific administrative structures.

57. Throughout the rest of this chapter, our costings of both general and specific factors are often expressed as ranges of cost per subject entry. It is important to recognise that a seemingly small change in cost per subject entry has considerable cost implications. Thus an increase in the average cost per subject entry of 10p for an item throughout the system would add just over £0.5m to the total expenditure of boards.

General

58. Any grouping which brings different boards to work together is likely to result in both examiners and teachers within the group, and the staffs of the constituent boards, comparing the levels of payments they receive for what they regard as broadly similar work. It is of course impossible to say what the outcome would be. Payments to examiners and teachers vary between 76p and £1.34 per subject entry (average figure 96p) for CSE boards; and between 84p


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and £1.24 (average £1.00) for GCE boards. There would be a certain pressure to standardise payments and to do so at the highest rates paid by the boards within the group; certainly, boards paying markedly low rates would come under pressure to raise them. On the other hand, it may be that tasks which seem similar, and therefore deserving equal remuneration, in fact differ in important respects - for example in complexity, with implications for the time required for the task.

59. Although we assume no increase in these payments as one theoretical extreme, experience suggests that there would in fact be pressure for them to rise. If they settled around the average the increase would be about 2p; if they rose to the highest level at present paid, £1.34, the increase would be 36p. The additional cost of the first assumption would be £112,000 and of the second £2,021,000. In view of the width of this range, and the very substantial impact on costs that the higher figure represents (it is more than half the total maximum cost for any of the three models costed below - see para. 74) we considered the reality of these figures a little more closely. The figure of £112,000 seemed unduly modest, and we felt that the tendency would be for payments to examiners and teachers to rise well above this, probably to above rather than below the midpoint between the two theoretical extremes (ie £nil and £2,021,000). But the higher extreme figure seemed equally unlikely. We noted that the two most expensive boards in terms of these payments - the SREB and SWEB CSE boards - were far from typical in their styles of examining. For example, the schools in the SREB region are formed into consortia. Scripts for all modes are marked by the teachers in each school; they are then checked by teachers from another school, and a sample is checked further by the board. A per capita fee is paid for marking and moderating, and much travelling is involved. Thus the travelling costs are abnormally high. To assume that the costs of all boards would rise to the level of those for this board requires the parallel assumption that all boards would adopt a similar approach to assessment. Such an assumption can be discounted for practical purposes and the figure of £2,021,000 viewed accordingly.

60. A similar effect of any form of grouping would be the comparisons made between the salaries paid to board staffs, and it might again be argued that there would be a tendency for these to rise in certain cases. The argument is less clear here, since the salary costs per subject entry are obviously affected by the size of the board. It is therefore difficult to separate price and volume factors. If, however, it is assumed that there would be some levelling up, and if our calculations are based on present standards with no regard for changes in management, it might be reasonable to allow for a minimum of about 5 per cent and a maximum of 20 per cent. In terms of the cost per subject entry stated in the right-hand columns of the table in paragraph 53, such increases would vary between 3p and 13p, and produce an additional cost for boards between £169,000 and £730,000.

61. To be balanced against a possible increase in payment to examiners, etc, are the undoubted - although unquantifiable - savings that ought to accrue from the dialogues between constituent boards under any form of grouping, however loose. It would be strange if the dialogues did not result in boards finding that others used procedures which were less costly and/or more efficient in certain


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respects, and in boards using each other's resources or coming together to make more economic use of outside resources. Against this, however, would be a tendency in the opposite direction, for boards to want the superior facilities others already possessed.

62. The impact of a common system on the balance of board-based and school-based assessment is another factor which cannot readily be costed. The report of the Educational Study Group suggests that a wider range of assessment techniques may be necessary if a common system is to provide adequately for the range of ability now covered by O Level and CSE examinations. At present approximately 12 per cent of all 16+ subject entries are classified as Mode III. A common system might well see an increase in the already developing tendency towards a more mixed-mode approach, with many examinations containing both board-based and school-based elements; at the same time the number of pure Mode III schemes might decline. Overall, some increase in school-based assessment seems likely, and it is arguable that if this were to become a regular feature of considerably more examinations a pressure would develop for teachers to be paid for any substantial work involved, especially if participation in school-based assessment ceased to be at their individual discretion, as it is at present. The effect would be to reduce the incidence of 'hidden' costs and to increase examining board direct costs, with a consequent implication for the level of fees charged and the expenditure of the local authorities which pay them.

63. Assuming that either 15 per cent or 30 per cent more subject entries under a common system had a sufficient element of school-based assessment to justify payment; and assuming that such payments by boards to teachers ranged from 5p to 50p (the maximum payment per subject entry at present) the additional direct cost to the system would be as follows:

(£000)
% of subject entries
involving teacher
assessment
15%30%
Payment of 5p per subject entry42421
Payment of 50p per subject entry84842

64. We consider it reasonable to assume that under any system of board grouping some co-ordination of syllabus provision would be likely; that is to say, not all boards within a group would continue to offer syllabuses in all subjects. Even in major subjects some reduction may be possible; in minority subjects one would expect a greater degree of rationalisation, with a substantial reduction in the number of syllabuses on offer in the least popular subjects. A reduction in the number of syllabuses would of course have a substantial effect on costs. Firstly, the expenditure necessary to develop the range of new syllabuses would be affected - we cover this aspect in Chapter 4. Secondly, the annual running costs of examining would be reduced. The payments to examiners and teachers for setting papers would be lower, the printing costs would be reduced in terms of the 'setting-up' costs for papers, and boards' salary costs might be affected. We estimated that there would be a saving of £900 in annual running costs for each syllabus which ceased to be available. This amount is based on the following calculation:


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Estimated number of subject entries for each Mode I syllabus: 4700

Savings for each subject entry assumed to be:

- for payments to examiners and teachers,
  10% of present payments
8p
- for printing and stationery,
  (approximately 33% of present cost)
11p
Total19p

4700 subject entries at 19p each = £893, say £900

65. The extent of any syllabus rationalisation, however, would be likely to depend upon the administrative structure of the new system. We consider below the three possible administrative structures which you asked us to cost. For model (i) we assume that the extent of syllabus rationalisation would be so modest as not to merit costing; for model (ii) we assume a reduction of up to half in the total number of syllabuses; and for model (iii) a reduction of up to a third.

Examples of Possible Administrative Structures

(i) A structure involving a grouping of boards with some central co-ordinating machinery

66. As each board would continue to offer its examinations in the main subjects at least, it would retain all its professional and administrative staff. Provision of any central co-ordinating machinery would be likely to impose an extra cost. Liaison between boards would be considerable, and some form of liaison committee would be required which would need servicing, at an assumed annual cost (including on-costs) of £12,000 per group. The need for liaison would imply a substantial additional cost for travelling and subsistence expenses, for which we allow £10,000 per group.

67. Assuming five groups altogether, the one for Wales would require no additional expenditure as it is already federated. On the basis of four groups for England, the maximum annual extra cost for this model would thus be £48,000 for liaison plus £40,000 for expenses, giving a total of £88,000.

(ii) An integrated grouping of boards

68. This model has similarities with that at (i) above but it is assumed that central co-ordination would be stronger, and would include the processing of candidate entries. A joint academic board and a measure of centralised financing also seem likely under such a model. These would require administrative and secretarial servicing. Whilst much of the staffing requirement might be expected to come from existing resources, we assume that three administrative staff, with clerical and secretarial assistance, would be needed for each group, and cost these (on the basis of existing salaries paid by boards) at £48,000 per group. And again we assume an additional burden on travelling and subsistence expenses, costing £10,000 per group. (For this model Wales is included, but without any extra travelling and subsistence expenses assumed).


[page 156]

69. For this model we assume that the number of syllabuses required overall is likely to be reduced by up to half, and in the next chapter we calculate that on the basis of present figures the maximum number of new syllabuses required (ie assuming no reduction) would be in the region of 1,200. Thus we are postulating that there might be a saving of up to 600 syllabuses at a marginal cost of £900 each. Assuming, to provide a range, a minimum reduction of 400 syllabuses as well as the maximum of 600, the total saving would be between £360,000 and £540,000.

The net effect would therefore be as follows:

Salaries:5 groups at £48,000 per group£240,000£240,000
Expenses:4 groups at £10,000 per group£40,000£40,000
Syllabuses:600 syllabuses at £900 each£-540,000
400 syllabuses at £900 each£-360,000
Net effect£-260,000£-80,000

Thus the reduction in expenditure is dependent on the assumed reduction in the number of syllabuses. For example, if only 310 syllabuses were saved, the net effect would be no change in expenditure under this model.

70. A further saving should be assumed for the likely effect on most of the constituent boards under this model of a more centralised administration. Savings might well accrue, for example, from a reduced requirement for the separate administration of minority subjects and processing subject entries. The extent of such changes is speculative, and much would depend on the administrative style adopted by each group, but if it were assumed that each reduced its staff complement by one subject secretary and one administrative assistant, a reasonable saving might be in the region of £12,000 per board, or £264,000 altogether (ie £12,000 x 22 boards).

(iii) A system involving fewer boards than at present

71. In this model the number of boards would be reduced to 15, of which one would cover Wales. For the purpose of illustration we assume that the 14 largest English boards would remain in existence. No regard has been paid to the geographical implications of this nor to the availability of staff or adequacy of premises; it is simply a convenient basis on which to cost.

72. In 1976 the 15 boards provided for 4,994,000 subject entries, ie 89 per cent of the total for England and Wales. The actual numbers were:

Wales286,176
English CSE Boards1,897,532
English GCE Boards2,810,184
4,993,892

The subject entries for the remaining six boards totalled 621,110. The following table divides 1976 expenditure into two categories:


[page 157]

Table 7

The 15 BoardsThe 6 BoardsTotal
Payments to examiners and teachers3,9664894,455
Expenses to examiners and teachers9541121,066
Printing, stationery and materials1,7511311,882
Carriage and postage29219311
Salaries and wages3,1855413,726
Computer56958627
Other58098678
Premises611121732
Total expenditure11,9081,56913,477

73. If the 15 boards could provide for the extra 621,000 subject entries (ie an extra 12 per cent on their present load) without increasing expenditure, the total saving would be in the region of £1.5m (£1,569,000). However, certain items of expenditure, eg payments to examiners, vary more or less in proportion to the size of the subject entry, so some additional expenditure would be incurred by the 15 boards. We suggest the following revised pattern of expenditure:

Table 8

Basis of
figures in
Column (4)
Total
expenditure
of the
Boards
LESS
additional
expenditure
to be incurred
by the
15 Boards
(£000)
net savings
Column (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)
Payments to examiners and teachers90% of Col (3)48944049
Expenses to examiners and teachers100% of Col (3)112112-
Printing, stationery and materials50% of Col (3)1316665
Carriage and postage100% of Col (3)1919-
Salaries and wages27½% of Col (3)541150391
Computer50% of Col (3)582929
Premises31% of Col (3)1213883
Other costs27½% of Col (3)982771
1,569881688

On these assumptions the reduction in expenditure from reducing the number of boards to 15 would be in the order of £688,000.


[page 158]

Summary of cost changes

74. As promised in paragraph 52 above, and with the reservations there stated, we now summarise the theoretically possible range of costs of running a common system arising from the assumptions made in this chapter.

Table 9

Items common to all models

1976

Paragraph
reference
£000
minimum
cost
£000
maximum
cost
Double entries55-20942
Winter entries55-+325
Examiners' and teachers' rates59Nil+2,021
Board salary rates60+169+730
Teacher assessment63+42+842
+2+3,876

Table 10

1976
£'000


[page 159]

PREMISES COSTS

75. We were also asked to consider what the effect would be on costs if the university premises of GCE boards were not to be available for use under a common system. This section of the chapter applies only to England. With the exception of the AEB the six English GCE boards have close university links that influence their accommodation costs. With one exception their accounts do not include a charge for the amortisation of their buildings.

76. In order to estimate this effect we have had to make assumptions about:

(i) the area used for 16+ examinations work;
(ii) the cost(s) per square foot/square metre;
(iii) any amounts already included in 16+ examination costs.
Estimates of Area

77. The premises of GCE boards accommodate O Levels, A Levels, overseas examinations and private candidates. The actual space used for 16+ work is therefore not available. Four methods of estimating the likely space have been tried and are set out below. The results give a range for all the boards from 131,000 sq. ft/12,170 sq. m up to 171,000 sq. ft/15,886 sq. m.

a. Assume that each GCE subject entry requires the same area as the average CSE entry - total 131,000 sq. ft/12,170 sq. m.

b. Assume that the actual area of the six boards is split between 16+ and other examination work in the ratio of their direct expenditure - total 143,000 sq. ft/13,285 sq. m.

c. Assume that the actual area of the six boards is split between 16+ and other examination work in the ratio of their subject entries - total 158,000 sq. ft/14,678 sq. m.

d. Assume that the area derived from a. above be increased in the ratio that the average area per GCE board employee bears to the average area per CSE board employee - total 171,000 sq. ft/15,886 sq. m.

Cost Per Square Foot/Square Metre

78. The terms of leasing suitable office, sorting and storage accommodation vary greatly from one place to another and from one time to another. For example, the lowest 1976 leasing rate for CSE boards was 65p per square foot, for the SWEB, and the highest £5.14 per square foot, for the Middlesex Board (£7 and £55.43 per square metre respectively). But these were historic costs and cannot be taken as representing what the cost would have been of leasing accommodation for the first time in 1976. We therefore had inquiries made of the Chief Valuer's Office, which suggested that the range of such costs in urban areas around the country (excluding the more expensive areas of inner London) would have been from £1.95 to £6.04 per square foot (£21 and £65 per square metre) in Manchester and Croydon respectively; an intermediate cost, for both Oxford and Cambridge, would be £4.18 per sq. foot (£45 per sq. metre).


[page 160]

79. On this basis the annual cost at current prices of replacing university premises used for 16+ examining work would range from:

131,000 sq ft (12,170 m2) at £1.95 per sq ft (£21 per sq metre) - £255,000
to171,000 sq ft (15,886 m2) at £6.04 per sq ft (£65 per sq metre) - £1,032,840
or171,000 sq ft (15,886 m2) at £4.18 per sq ft (£45 per sq metre) - £714,780

These figures represent 5p, 18p, and 13p per subject entry respectively.

Existing Charge

80. The London GCE board included in its 1976 accounts the rental charges for the premises they occupy. Thus the effect on 16+ examination costs of the withdrawal of university premises would not be the full amount as shown in the foregoing sub-section. It would need to be reduced by about £100,000 - an estimate based on the proportion of the London total premises costs of £343,600 that may be said to represent the rental element for 16+ examinations.

Equipment Costs

81. Closely linked to the availability of university premises is the use of the university equipment within them - computers, accounting machines, printing equipment, etc. Although these would presumably also cease to be available it would not be sensible to assume that they would all need to be provided new elsewhere. Nevertheless, some additional expenditure would be involved. Precise figures for the value of existing equipment are not available, but a total replacement cost of £4m has been suggested. Assuming that between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of this amount might be needed, and assuming also the average life of such equipment to be 10 years, the annual cost involved would be between £100,000 and £200,000, representing a range from 2p to 4p per subject entry.

External considerations

82. All the assumptions made in this chapter have been related directly to the examinations system as it operated in 1976. Obviously by the mid 1980s, when a common system might be implemented, the situation will have changed and a number of different factors will bear on whatever examining system then exists. The broad changes we envisage are declining school rolls, changes in the take-up rate of examinations, variations in subject popularity, and general economic pressures. These are not all of a kind. The first has the most obvious bearing on costs, but whilst the decline in school population itself can be forecast with reasonable accuracy, its effect on examining costs cannot. The other factors seem entirely unpredictable and we have felt unable to attempt any quantification of their effect. Nor have we seen it as being within our remit to do so, since we are concerned with how the introduction of a common system will affect costs, not with what factors will affect them irrespective of changes in examinations.

83. The decline in school rolls will of course significantly affect the number of candidates entering for 16+ examinations in the 1980s. The current estimates are that candidate numbers in summer examinations will rise from the 1976 level of 1,227,000 to 1,420,000 in 1982, but will drop thereafter each year to about 1,180,000 - and still be dropping - in 1990. But under any examining system


[page 161]

payments to examiners for marking scripts will reduce in line with the decrease in candidate numbers; other payments, such as the cost of setting examination papers will probably not reduce at all; and other costs, such as boards' staff salaries, printing and stationery, will decrease but not in proportion to the reduction in numbers. The impact is therefore to reduce total costs while the average cost per subject entry (and hence fees) will tend to rise.

84. The decline in school rolls may have differing implications for the three illustrative administrative models above, and our costings of these should be considered in the light of this factor. But some savings could be envisaged whatever administrative solution was adopted.





[page 162]

CHAPTER 4: CHANGEOVER COSTS

85. This term is used to cover the non-recurring effect on major items of expenditure of changing to a common system of examining. Many such will be 'hidden' costs and local education authority costs, which we have touched on in the latter part of the previous chapter. Thus we discuss here mainly the implications of changing to a common system for the examining boards, although there is much that follows that has relevance for schools and all of it is of concern to the local authorities.

Syllabus Development

86. A major factor in changing over to a common system is the need to develop a range of new syllabuses. It has been assumed that new syllabuses will need to be developed within a common system, although we make some exception to this rule when we come to Mode III syllabuses. In order to estimate syllabus development costs a number of assumptions have to be made.

a. The number of syllabuses to be developed. This must depend on the groupings and decisions on the extent to which each board provides its own syllabus(es) for each subject.

b. The amount of work involved in creating a syllabus. This will vary and the cost figures offered below are necessarily a very rough estimate of an average volume of activity. They take account of the probability that some more complex subject syllabuses may involve a great deal more work - and thus be much more costly to develop - than others.

c. The cost of subject panel/working party meetings. This is obviously dependent on b. and will again vary between subjects.

d. Consultation costs. These take the form of regional or national conferences, and postal questionnaires - either complementing each other or as alternatives. An allowance for each has been made in the model in paragraph 89 below.

e. Boards' administrative costs. These will include the issue of circulars, printing new syllabuses, extra payments to examiners and travel/ subsistence costs.

87. To arrive at the number of syllabuses that would need to be developed, we extracted figures from the schedules completed by boards at the time of the accountants' visits. These show:
Mode I Syllabuses
CSE board (8 returns) 36; 78; 35; 47; 62; 34; 28 and 25
GCE boards (7 returns) 89; 50; 62; 44; 163; 78 and 162

Mode III Syllabuses
CSE boards (12 returns) 397; 1,163; 642; 28; 358; 266; 1,400; 78; 870; 1,200; 3,000 and 154


[page 163]

88. The cost of preparing a syllabus is more problematical. The May 1976 publication of the Standing Conference of Regional Examinations Boards, 'The Development of Syllabuses' offers a cost for CSE boards of £1,400. The information we have for GCE boards is more impressionistic; the AEB have suggested £5,450 but other experience suggests that a cost of between £4,000 and £5,000 would be nearer the mark for the GCE sector.

89. The wide difference between the level of cost for the two types of board is partly accounted for by the inclusion in the GCE figures of elements for overheads, staff salaries etc, not included in the CSE figures. For our purposes, the CSE approach is the more relevant, since the aim is to identify only the necessary additional cost of activities caused by changing to a common system, not to allocate total board expenditures across certain headings. Nevertheless, account has to be taken of higher GCE board costs in this respect, and allowance made for the possibility that the level of activity may be such that additional staff and/or advisers may have to be employed on a temporary basis. We also recognise that the development costs will vary greatly from one subject to another in preparing for a common system. The need to achieve a satisfactory result will always be paramount and, in the major subjects particularly, must imply wide consultations and a high level of activity. With all these considerations in mind, and after discussion with the Schools Council, we have taken a figure of £3,500 as the average cost for constructing a new syllabus under a common system.

An estimate of the cost of syllabus development:
Mode I-type syllabuses

90. By reference to the statistics above, the maximum number of new syllabuses would be in the region of 1,200 - ie based on 14 CSE boards at 40 syllabuses each, and eight GCE boards at 80 syllabuses each. But such a figure is almost certainly too high. It takes no account of the overall number of syllabuses reducing under a common system if boards form themselves into groups, nor of the possibility that some syllabuses designed for a limited ability range might not change. In Chapter 3 we postulated possible reductions in the numbers of syllabuses needed under certain administrative structures, and the same assumptions are carried through in our calculations below. Thus, on the basis of 1,200 syllabuses at a development cost of £3,500 each, we arrive at a total development cost of £4,200,000; for 800 syllabuses the total cost would be £2,800,000; and for 600 syllabuses it would be £2,100,000.

Mode III-type syllabuses

91. In terms of examining board expenditure, the development and moderation costs of Mode III syllabuses are not high. Typically, rates of £10 are paid for each of these two stages although such payments are not of course intended to reflect the economic cost of the work that has been put in; the element of 'hidden' cost in such work has been referred to earlier. Board statistics show that approximately 12,000 Mode III syllabuses exist. It is improbable that all these would need to be revised in the context of a common system; indeed a great many, particularly those devised for entirely local purposes, would not. Assuming therefore that some 5,000 would require substantial revision at a cost of £20 each, the expenditure involved would be £100,000.


[page 164]

Normal development costs

92. Most examining boards have a programme of continuous revision of their syllabuses, whereby each comes up for a major review every five years. This does not mean, however, that each undergoes a substantial revision every five years. The proportion that do is not known, but we have assumed 50 per cent, ie 600, being half the 1,200 arrived at in paragraph 90. This implies that 120 major syllabus revisions would take place per year throughout the system if no work in developing common syllabuses took the place of such activity.

93. We have taken the length of time available for developing syllabuses for a common system to be either three or five years. The resultant annual costs are expressed in the table below.

Table 11

No. of Mode I syllabuses
to be reviewed
1,200
(maximum)
800
(Model 2)
600
(Model 3)
Cost of Model
at £3,500 each
Mode III Revision
£000
4,200
100
£000
4,200
100
£000
2,800
100
£000
2,800
100
£000
2,100
100
£000
2,100
100
Total cost of revision4,3004,3002,9002,9002,2002,200
Annual cost incurred
over 3 and 5 years
respectively in each case
1,433860967580733440
Less current costs
of a normal year 1/10th
[(1200 x £3,500) + £100,000]
430430430430430430
Net annual cost of revision1,00343053715030310
Equivalent cost per subject entry18p8p10p3p5p-

94. Thus the annual additional cost might be £10,000, if half the syllabuses were produced over a five-year period. Although the table costs the other end of the range, with 1,200 syllabuses being produced over three years, this seems to us in practice an impossible undertaking. A five-year period would surely be required, and the maximum annual cost which we regard as practicable is therefore the £537,000 representing the production of 800 syllabuses over three years.

Board Staffing

95. In Chapter 3 we costed three alternative administrative structures that were theoretically possible under a common system. It is clear in model iii, and implicit in model ii, that some reduction in the permanent staff of boards would result from the reorganisations at least in the longer term. Such reductions would flow from the reorganisation process in each case, rather than from the introduction of a common system. That is to say, they result if, for whatever reason, one board merges with another or otherwise goes out of business. It may be that in the next decade the decline in secondary school rolls would in any case oblige boards to contemplate such mergers or closures, irrespective of possible changes in the structure of examinations. Nevertheless, if it were introduced, a common system would obviously be a major factor in any rationalisation that came about and we have costed in models ii and iii the savings that


[page 165]

might follow from that development in terms of staff reductions. Such reductions would be likely to occur in the rather longer term, starting only after the completion of the first period of development and preparation for a common system - a period in which we envisage boards needing all their experienced staff.

96. If staff do become redundant as a result of the introduction of a common system, the need to make appropriate provision for the individuals concerned should be seen as a changeover cost in this context. The terms of such provision are of course outside our remit. We are in no position to offer any costing for model ii, but the number of staff involved is unlikely to be great and the total expenditure would be modest; for an outcome on the lines of model iii the cost would be higher, as implied in the table in paragraph 73.

Computer Costs

97. A change to a common system of examining would have some short-term effect on boards' computer costs, in the form of additional expenditure on programming and development. This should, however, be offset, in models i and ii at least, by all boards within a group adopting similar practices and procedures derived from existing ones. As board expenditure was only £627,000 on this item, we have assumed that any net increase would be minimal.

'Hidden' Costs

98. We described in Chapter 2 the findings from the visits made to 23 schools by members of HM Inspectorate and the team of accountants, offering in effect a retrospective statement about the academic year 1976-77. In considering the likely effects on 'hidden' costs if a common system of examining were introduced it is scarcely practicable to go beyond generalised statements. In the run-in period for a new system there would clearly be a substantial increase in work on developing syllabuses, above all in those subjects not covered by the feasibility studies and joint examinations which have been mounted. A great deal of work would be required in all main subjects, representing a major 'hidden' factor in changeover costs. Teachers would be involved in preparing for the new system not only within their schools, but in board subject panel and working party meetings, and in attending regional or national consultative conferences. It is the extent to which all this activity would impinge on school time, and thus school resources, that would determine the extent of the 'hidden' costs.

School and LEA Costs

99. Other pressures on schools' and local education authorities' expenditures must also be assumed. New syllabuses imply at least the possibility that new textbooks and other teaching materials will be required, and provision of these might well show a sharp increase during the changeover period, with obvious implications for school capitation allowances. Furthermore, local education authorities would no doubt wish to take account in their in-service training programmes of the desirability of teachers being fully prepared to meet the educational requirements of the new system, including possible developments in assessment methods.

100. Undoubtedly such short-term additional costs would be felt within the schools and authorities. It seems reasonable to suppose, however, that the longer-term prospect would be more beneficial in costs terms, if the assumption is accepted that the total number of syllabuses would settle at a level below what is current in the dual system.


[page 166]

ANNEX A


[page 167]


[page 168]


[page 169]


[page 170]


[page 171]


[page 172]


[page 173]

Table 4


[page 174]


[page 175]


[page 176]


[page 177]


[page 178]

ANNEX C

Form 1

THESE PAPERS WILL BE TREATED IN CONFIDENCE

16+ EXAMINATIONS: COST STUDY GROUP

Notes for all questions are appended

Data for Academic Year 1976-77

Name of HMI ......................... and Accountant ............................

1. No. of pupils on roll

Year I ......Year V ......
Year II ......Year VI ......
Year III ......Year VII ......
Year IV ......Year VIII ......
Total ......

2. No. of teaching staff

(a) Full-time no. ..........
(b) Part-time no. ..........
(c) Part-time (FTE) ..........

3. Description of the timetable

4. Summary of teacher deployment for the whole school. Excluding invigilation.

Periods per week

(a) total no. of class teaching periods per week ..........
(b) total no. of non-teaching periods per week ..........
(c) total no. of periods per week ..........
(d) no. of periods in (b) allocated specifically for work in connection with GCE O/CSE examinations ..........

Number of periods within school hours that have been used in the year 1976-77 on:

Periods in the year

(e) work undertaken within the school in connection with GCE O/CSE examinations ..........
(f) work undertaken outside the school in connection with GCE O/CSE examinations ..........


[page 179]

5. Special comments from Headteacher





[page 180]


[page 181]

Form 1 (contd.)

7. Administrative, secretarial and clerical staff

    a. total no. of staff (FTE)
    b. description of examining duties and estimates of times and volumes

8. Laboratory and workshop technicians, etc


9. Printing and photocopying


10. Telephones


11. Postage


12. Packing


13. Examination materials


14. Payments received in respect of examinations


[page 182]

NOTES FOR COMPLETION OF FORM 1

1. Item 1(No. of pupils on Roll)
Year I denotes 11 year olds
Year II denotes 12 year olds etc

2. Item 2

(No. of Teaching Staff)
Please base the full-time equivalent (FTE) numbers of part-time staff on the number of periods of attendance

3. Item 3

(Description of the Timetable)
Please indicate the number of periods and the length of each in a normal school week eg 35 periods of 40 minutes each

4. Item 4

(Summary of Teacher Deployment)
Please extract from a master timetable or from the individual teacher timetables the total class contact and non-teaching periods

5. (a)-(d)

periods per week should be recorded
     (e)-(f)periods per year (for 1976-77) should be recorded

6. (e) & (f)

the number of periods that are actually used because of examination work is required. If possible details of the numbers of teachers receiving them and the reasons e'tc should be noted

7. (f)

work undertaken outside the school: this includes, for example, agreement trials, moderation meetings and attendance at examination board subject panel meetings for which the teacher is not paid by the board

8. Item 5

(Special Comments from Head)
You may wish to comment on the number of periods spent in invigilation of actual (not 'mock') GCE O/CSE examinations.
In addition the comments may include such items as:
- who organises the examination in the school
- whether a responsibility allowance is given for work in connection
with examinations
- the extent to which colleagues cover for teachers absent on examination business
- whether supply teachers are available when staff attend board panels and meetings
- the number of weeks during which the normal timetable is adhered to
- the length of the examination season
- the incidence and effect of winter examinations
- the effect of administrative practices of the examining boards

9. Item 6

(Number of Subject Entries)
The number of all the entries for Summer 1977 Examinations is required. As far as possible the examinations should be fitted into the broad subject headings that have been entered on the form


[page 183]

10. Items 7-8(Administrative, Secretarial and Clerical Staff) (Laboratory and Workshop Technicians etc)
Details of the amount of time devoted to examination matters by the staff are required
eg school clerical assistant spends one week each autumn completing the entry forms or two days on the distribution of the results and certificates; also two days each year are spent typing and duplicating Mode III examination papers:

- subjects were .............., .............. and .................;

- no. of papers were .............., .............. and .................;

- no. of copies were .............., .............. and .................;


11. Items 9-12

(Printing/Photocopying, Telephones, Postage, Packing Costs)
Please record the actual amounts or estimates of these costs. Wherever possible the information should include the cost and quantity eg x copies, x subjects, x letters to examiners etc

12.

Where feasible GCE O Level and CSE expenditure should be segregated. (If it is not possible to separate GCE O-from A-level expenses this must be indicated)

13.

These items should not include any co stings of staff time

14. Items 11-13

Wherever they are distinguishable costs arlSmg from project/course/practical work should be separated out

15. Item 13

(Examination Materials)
This section should include all the materials used in the examination except those provided by the examination board. They could include, in some cases, answer books, pens and pencils, ordnance survey maps; science specimens, cookery and needlework materials etc. A distinction should be drawn between costs borne by the school and borne by parents (see Note l5 below)

16. Item 14

These will include payments of materials used in examinations but taken home and in some cases payments of fees (eg for double entry)


[page 184]

16+ EXAMINATIONS: COST STUDY GROUP

Form 2

1. Position in School eg Head of Department ..............................

2. Special Examination Duties ..............................

3. Subjects Taught ..............................

4. Summary of Timetable

Total number of class teaching periods per week

Year I ......Year V ......
Year II ......Year VI ......
Year III ......Year VII ......
Year IV ......Year VIII ......
(a)Total ......

(b) total number of non-teaching periods per week ......

(c) grand total of periods per week ......

Number of non-teaching periods within school hours that have been used in the year 1976-7 on:

(d) work undertaken within the school in connection with GCE O/CSE examinations ......

(e) work undertaken outside the school in connection with GCE O/CSE examinations ......

PLEASE SEE NOTES FOR COMPLETION


[page 185]


[page 186]

NOTES FOR COMPLETION OF FORM 2

1.Each member of staff completes a separate form.

2. Item 3

(Subjects Taught)
Please enter your main subject first.

3. Item 4

(Summary of Time-Table)
Work outside school would include - for example - attendance at examination board subject panels, at agreement trials and undertaking necessary field work.

4. Item 5

(Total Time spent on Examination Work)
The purpose of this part of the form is to record the total amount of time (in and out of school hours) you spend on examination duties. The nature of those duties, whether fees and expenses are received etc.

5. Item 5

Exclusion
Time spent on examination work which is an extension of your normal duties (see vertical list of activities) should be recorded. The time spent on examination work for a Board on a purely individual basis eg on marking scripts or discharging the function of a chief or assistant Examiner .must be excluded.

6. Item 5

Horizontal headings
Time in school hours, and time outside school hours: please estimate the annual total of hours. Advance knowledge - whether you know in advance if time is to be spent in school hours.
Receipts of fees or expenses: a YES/NO answer will suffice for expenses but the actual amounts of fees paid would be helpful.

7. Item 5

Vertical heading
(a)-(d)Please exclude 'mock' examinations throughout.
(g)Board courses. These would be run by the Board specifically for teachers whose subjects at their respective schools were examined by a method including internal assessment.
(k)Administration. It would be desirable to know what time is spent on:
(i) Examination Entries
(ii) Arranging the examination time-table, and invigilation, and cover for colleagues.
(iii) Making physical arrangements eg examination rooms' layout.
(iv) Despatching of scripts etc.
(v) Receipt of results, their processing, publishing and statistical analysis.