Breaking: Exam board chief executive resigns

The head of one of the country’s main exam boards has announced his resignation.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the OCR board, is stepping down from the role after five years. He will leave the organisation at the end of this month. It is not yet clear whether he is leaving for another post.

Simon Lebus, group chief executive of Cambridge Assessment, which owns OCR, said in a statement: “Mark has been responsible for stewarding the organisation through a period of major change in both its general and vocational business. I would like to thank Mark for this good work and wish him every success for the future.”

Mr Dawe, who was previously principal and chief executive of Oaklands College in Hertfordshire, will be replaced by William Burton as interim chief executive. Mr Burton describes himself as a “widely experienced CEO specialising in turnarounds, buy-outs and complex situations” and has previously worked as interim chief executive of the Construction Industry Training Board.

Mr Dawe’s departure comes as exam boards face criticism from the Department for Education over their sample test papers for reformed GCSEs. A DfE source told TES last month that ministers believed boards were submitting sample test papers that were “the easiest they think they can get away with” despite ministers’ clear intentions that the new tests should be tougher than their predecessors.

“It’s all about working to the lowest common denominator,” the source said. “Ofqual gives boards as many bites of the cherry as they need to get it right. They ­submit an easy paper and Ofqual ratchets it up a bit, so they change it just enough to clear the bar. The danger is that one paper will slip through.”

The government has already told exam boards that they are on theirfinal warning to avoid a major reform of the ­system that could threaten their very existence.

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