18 August 2008 | Paul Snell
The government has cancelled its five-year £156 million deal with its exam-marking contractor.
It follows delays to the marking of national key stage tests and the publication of results caused by problems at supplier ETS Europe earlier this summer (Web news, 18 July).
In a letter to the Education and Skills Select Committee, Ed Balls, secretary of state for children, schools and families, said the deal would be terminated with immediate effect and ETS would have to repay £19.5 million to the Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA). The total cost of the contract in 2008 was worth £39.6 million.
The remaining management of the 2008 tests, including any marking and publication of results left over, will now be handled by the National Assessment Agency.
The QCA now plans to procure a one-year contract for 2009, so recommendations from a review into the problems, currently being carried out by peer Lord Sutherland, can be implemented into future contracts.
Zoubir Yazid, managing director at ETS, said in a statement: "ETS Europe has apologised to schools for the delays in marking national curriculum assessments in England. However, we would argue that the quality of the marking is high, due to the stringent new checks that we introduced this year."