Central marking – we’re one of the only subjects that doesn’t get it!

  • dbrowning

    I was chatting with a colleague in another department this morning and we worked out that in the school the only other subjects that don’t get their courseworks centrally marked is Engineering Science, Graphic Communications and Languages (but that’s just the speaking part). Seems really unfair that we have all that marking when other subjects just send it off. It also seems unfair on the kids as, with the best will in the world, you’re gong to get variations across the country. My colleague also pointed out that this may well be why these departments have been hit so hard with verification. If the SQA is spending all it’s money for a subject on central marking then they won’t spend as much on verification of units. However they have all that cash for these subjects to spend verifying our stuff. For example, I’m a single handed department and I was verified in round 1 for units last year, round 3 for the coursework last year and this year I’ve been done in round 1 again.

    Any thoughts on central marking etc.?

    Scott Leiper

    Central marking is just a hold over from the old standard grade system, we have always marked a percentage of the overall mark in house through the old standard grade coursework, its just now they don’t pay us.

    Richard Tierney

    Languages (when I taught them) also self marked listening, speaking, reading and writing. They may have moved on, but the issue for me is material pupils are required to hand in that is not on their guidelines. At least we can make amends for this because we do the marking ourselves – not so clear cut in other subjects – just random markers it seems.

    Scott Leiper

    Which, by the way, is not a defense of the system, I actually prefer marking in house, I mark as they go, and I think if I had to get them all finished and bundled up with all the evidence formatted and displayed for a stranger to mark, and provide my observation evidence again in a suitable format for a stranger to take on board, I think that would take almost as long, and be far more stressful.

    David Muir

    I don’t have a problem with internal marking. I think it makes sense for our subject – especially for programming where both the process and the product are important.

    What I do have a problem with is the amount of assessment (far, far too much!) and the poor specifications of what they have to do. Slash the amount of assessment and properly vet the problems before they are published, and I would be a much happier bunny.

    Brian Avarl

    Why though are colleagues in other subjects being paid to mark course assignments (physics for example) at a rate of £6.99 I’m led to believe – when we are in effect marking for free?

    The stress is still there – we are being verified for our N5 course assignment through visiting verification – still need to mark and ensure everything in place and all documentation is correct. Then you hope the verifier agrees with your judgment – better to send it away and get it marked centrally.

    Brian Avarl

    would agree with previous post regarding amount and quality of the assessments.


    Yup, agree with most of what has been said here. There is so much assessment now and it doesn’t seem fair that we have to spend time marking it when other subjects just send it off. And then as Brian said you might get someone coming into visit you to verify it. Why can’t we just send it off like pretty much everyone else?

    Darren Brown

    I’m internal – I think you need to see the pupils development skills and working in web/db/programming to mark them. Schools can have pupils producing brilliant solutions when no-one can tell if they did it themselves or not.

    The bigger issue is the assessments are wide open and cannot be applied consistently to give fair scores across the country.

    I’m still pushing for unit assessment to be scrapped completely and more teacher professional input on pupil’s scores. The coursework project and then our marking takes a long time but I know what scores most of my pupils will get before I start marking and they are a fair spread. Why not trust me SQA?


    SQA do trust you – they’re not pushing for external assessment, it’s computing teachers like you and I who are pushing for it (or not).
    I’ve never previously had an issue with internal marking. However, I verified course works last year and there were times where I was fuming where I saw a centre award marks such as 50 for a piece of work that that I personally wouldn’t give a mark higher than the high 30s.
    Time and again centres would prove to be too generous or too harsh with their marking. Only high tolerances allowed verification to pass.

    External marking is going to ensure a larger degree of consistency than was witnessed last year.
    It still won’t be a perfect scenario, but it will be better.

    That said, I’ve found the tweaks to the course works this year (in my case Language Tutors) to be a vast improvement in terms of gathering evidence and getting pupils through the coursework so much quicker with their emphasis on the task at hand rather than gathering countless examples of hard copy evidence. Much easier to mark too.

    However, I still feel that consistency of marking across the country will be best addressed by incorporating external marking.

    Brian Avarl

    If we are to continue with internal marking then should we not receive a like for like payment i.e. the same rate as those who mark centrally.

    That would seem a fair resolution to me.

    Susan Thomson

    I agree with the issues raised above, I think we should continue to mark our own assignments. I don’t relish the stress of getting them completed in time to send off to the SQA for external marking.

    However, in the interest of fairness, we should either be given time off timetable to mark the assignments, or paid for marking them.

    Jeremy Scott

    @susan thomson

    I’m not sure I follow your argument regarding getting assignments off to SQA in time for external marking. We already have deadlines for verification and for submission of the marks, for which we have to get the pupils to complete the work plus give us sufficient time to mark them.

    I certainly hope that we can move to a situation where our coursework is marked externally; however, in the meantime, I agree that we should get time off to mark (although it’s difficult to see how that could be accommodated) or paid at a rate that reflects the time involved.

    Susan Thomson

    Hi Jeremy

    Last year I had to give up 4 days of my Easter break to mark the Nat 5 assignments so that I could submit the assignments on time for verification, after a couple of weeks of dragging kids out of other subjects to finish them before the Easter break. We were caught unawares last year by the sheer volume of assessment but I can’t say that it has improved any this year!

    This year we are better organised but we still wouldn’t have met the original deadline so I was relieved that the SQA extended it, otherwise I would have been dragging kids and myself into school over the Easter break to get the assignments finished and marked.

    I only just finished marking my Nat 5 assignments today and planning to finish marking my (new) Higher assignments tomorrow. My school has been very understanding and given me the time to do it. They are also prepared to cover my classes, if necessary.

    I have worked very long hours since Christmas including most lunchtimes and giving up all my non-contact time, doing whatever it takes to get the pupils through their unit assessments and assignment. We finished teaching the course before Christmas! It has been assessment overload since. I honestly don’t know how other schools have managed to do it. I just feel we don’t have enough time to teach the course and do all the assessment. We tried to incorporate the assessment into the teaching time but there just wasn’t enough time to get it all done, hence the mad rush at the end.

    This is the reason why I would be reluctant to have assignments marked externally. I simply don’t think I could get them done on time! Also, would the SQA be able to get markers? I wouldn’t fancy tackling all the different programming languages.

    My opinion is – either pay us, or pay for supply cover and we can mark them ourselves. Also, give us extra time to submit the results so we can mark them during exam leave.

    Perhaps that makes my position clearer.


    Jacqueline Campbell

    My faculty (Technologies) gave a questionnaire to staff last week to find out among other things the workload involved in delivering internal assessment. I have had 2 Nat5 classes and 2 new Higher classes this year. I know I have worked extremely long hours; particularly since last November but I had not counted them up. I now wish I had not added them up as the total is unacceptable. The total time I have taken to mark all the unit assessment and coursework assignment is £222.25 hours. I have provided 237 hours of supported study for practical work only. I reached a consensus of opinon with two other local authority colleagues on how long we took to mark each assessment task.

    I will take time to reflect on it fully but my intial thoughts on why workload is so high is that the new Higher has too much assessment (it needs to be severely cut down). I also intend to do a portfolio approach to the SDD unit this year which I think will help. I also think taking pupils with no previous experience of CS is an issue – I spent a lot of practical study support starting from scratch last August to bring pupils up to the level required for the programming work.

    In addition to the impact on staff (I feel completely exhausted) the pupils were also badly overloaded with internal assessment. We have given a questionnaire to pupils as well and although the data has not been analysed yet pupils have felt stressed by deadlines across a number of their subjects and all at approximately the same time. I also feel that my classes in the junior school have suffered this year as my primary focus has been the Nat5 and Higher pupils.

    The good news for me going forward is that next session I only have one Nat5 class and one higher class. I am not sure what the solution to this problem is although I think a rationalisation of internal assessment would be a start and I agree with the previous post re marking assignments during the exam diet when we have the time to do it properly and collaboratively.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 24 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.