Since the launch of the new CfE qualifications there has been considerable concern amongst CS teachers at the workload issues and marking reliability surrounding the marking procedures for coursework in National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher. CAS Scotland has researched the concerns of teachers over the last 18 months and believes that moving to external marking by SQA appointees would reduce workload and improve the consistency of marking judgements.
CAS Scotland is also concerned about the impact of industrial action by the EIS (and, possibly soon, the SSTA) which may make marking of coursework almost impossible to achieve in the contractual 35-hour working week.
Much of our data around the area of coursework marking comes principally from a survey we conducted in 2015 which found overwhelming support for external marking of courseworks. The full report can be read here.
Credit is also due to the members and admins on CompEdNet where much of the initial debate took place, and concerns were first raised. We are indebted to Charlie Love for his long-term commitment to running the service.
In a recent subject review (http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/files_ccc/Computing_Science_Review_Report.pdf) the SQA ruled out a move to external assessment until at least the 2018-19 diet. This seemed clearly unacceptable to the majority of teachers and has prompted the following actions by CAS Scotland to help further inform affected stakeholders:
- We re-surveyed members to find out whether there was still a strength of feeling amongst CS teachers against the current internal marking arrangements (there is!) and also exploring whether there is likely to be sufficient markers to move to an external system. External Marking of Coursework – Google Forms Result.
- We have written a letter to the SQA making our concerns clear and requesting a meeting. They have agreed to meet with us in late September to discuss our findings.
- We have responded to the main teaching unions following requests from the Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney, for ideas to reduce teacher workload.
- The EIS have responded by including the issue of internal marking of course works in their submission to the Cabinet Secretary: http://www.eis.org.uk/images/education/JSwinney-submissionJune2016final.pdf
- Disappointingly, we await a response from the SSTA
- We issued a press release making clear the impact that forthcoming industrial action will have on the ability of teachers to mark coursework. This was comprehensively reported by the herald.
- CS teachers via CompEdNet have provided template letters for members to use to write to their union requesting specific action to force a move to external marking.
CAS Scotland will continue to monitor developments in this area and are happy to meet with any parties to share our findings and insights regarding the current situation. Our goal is to ensure learners receive a high-quality, fair assessment procedure in this important subject area.