Exam board seeks markers on cruise ships

The search for thousands of GCSE and A-level markers has prompted one exam board to target retired teachers in the pages of cruise ships’ on-board magazines.

OCR has said that the need for markers will increase over the next few years in the wake of reforms that have switched the emphasis from coursework to exams.

This year it has managed to hire 4,500 new markers through a recruitment campaign that included advertising in P&O’s cruise magazine, on Classic FM radio and Sky TV.

The company also put adverts on billboards and buses and used Twitter, as well as targeting subject associations, university lecturers and private schools.

But this effort has been put in just to maintain its current pool of around 15,000 markers – the board estimates that in future years the changes could mean an additional 5,000 will have to be found.

The idea of advertising in a P&O cruise magazine came from a member of staff who went on a cruise and met several teachers – and retired teachers – on the ship.

The changes to GCSEs include amending the grading system from A*-G to 9-1 and having exams at the end of a two-year period of study rather than dividing courses into modules.

Teaching of the reformed GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths will begin this September. Science, history and modern foreign languages are among the 17 GCSEs that will begin in 2016. The remaining subjects, including design and technology, media studies and geology, will begin in 2017.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of OCR, said: “The shortage of examiners is a system-wide problem which has affected all exam boards in recent years. Everyone has a stake in getting assessment right by ensuring that there are enough teachers to maintain high-quality marking.

“OCR has successfully recruited 4,500 more examiners, and is undertaking research into the issues teachers and exam boards face. And we hope the Department for Education will join with exam boards, school leadership groups and other stakeholders to help find a long-lasting solution to this problem.”

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