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!