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Thursday, 28 June 2012 20:08

Medway Test 2013 & last year's debacle

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Now that the outcomes of last year's Medway Test debacle have been settled and all appeals heard, accompanied where relevant by an apology from Medway Council, it is timely to look at the consequencesfor the imminent tests for 2013 entry.  

Medway Council, highly embarrassed by its own poor management of the Medway Tests last year, has reorganised the organisation of the tests to be taken in September 2012. Children attending all Medway state primary schools will take the tests in their own schools.  44 of the 62 primary schools will take the Medway Tests on Tuesday 18th & Wednesday 19th September, the remaining 18 on Saturday 22nd September. Each school could choose which arrangement it wished to follow. Two private schools will also use 18th & 19th, St Andrews is going for 22nd, and pupils at Kings School, Rochester will take the tests at an independent centre, along with out of county children. The full list of schools is in the Medway Secondary Admissions brochure, available here, or from Medway Council directly. 

The logistics of this arrangement will be complicated......

Councillor Les Wicks, Lead Medway  Councillor with responsibility for education has stated that: "to avoid using teachers, outside invigilators would be brought in to supervise the test". Nearly all of these schools will require at least two invigilators, who will need to be recruited and trained. Where are they coming from, as many of the 2012 problems were down to poor invigilation? The other issue is the nature of the Medway Test. There is an argument, used in Kent that multiple choice tests are secure and out of county children taking  the test on the Saturday will not benefit from, for example, talking with children who took the test earlier. Clearly the 80 or so external invigilators used for the Tuesday & Wednesday will all need to be totally reliable so that there is no leakage of the questions for other children on the Saturday. However, for Medway, there is a specific issue with the English Test, a single piece of work, which accounts for two fifths of the total marks. My views on the unsuitability of this arrangement are spelled out here. Previously a second piece of English work was set for the small number of children who took the test late, but this  is on a very different scale to the much larger number expected under the new arrangements. Will the Saturday topic be a completely different title under a different genre of writing (narratives, poems, playscripts, reports, explanations, opinions, instructions, reviews, commentaries), or will there be a link? In any case, there will need to be a third English task for those who miss the test through illness. Whichever, there will be issues of standardisation across the three writing tasks.

In any case, my very best wishes to all children taking the Medway Tests and I hope that this year the test remain free of controversy. For such an important time in the lives of young people, they deserve better than the provision of previous years. For those interested in what happened, look at links from here

One unsettled outcome remains. As previous browsers will know, I was very unhappy with comments made by Medway Council officers and the Council Member with responsibility for Education. As a result I submitted a Freedom of Information request on 22nd October, to see the internal correspondence, a request which was unsurprisingly turned down, Medway Council having dragged the response out to 21st December (my request got lost!). I went through the Complaints Procedure but was unsuccessful in getting what I wanted, eventually receiving a rejection on 25th March. Having dealt with Medway over the years I have been in this situation before, but have lost the will to carry on. This time I submitted a complaint to the Information Commissioner on 7th April and then discovered that they take even longer to settle complaints than Medway, being allocated to an Investigator to begin looking at the case on 26th July.  One day I may have an answer!

Read 44577 times Last modified on Friday, 19 October 2012 10:13

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