Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME)

ACME's response to Ofqual's consultation on Regulating Endorsement and Examiner-Author Conflicts

06 May 2014

This consultation was about introducing new regulatory requirements that apply to awarding organisations that endorse resources to support the teaching and learning of their qualifications.  We are also consulting on new guidance about how they should manage any risks to qualification standards where senior examiners also author resources. 

In its letter drafted in response, ACME recognised that some factors that contribute to the quality of textbooks are outside awarding bodies' and Ofqual's control, including frequent reviews and changes to curricula and subsequent change to examination criteria.

However, ACME again expressed its concern about the commercial relationships that exist between awarding organisations, senior examiners and publishers.

A reliance on examiner-authored resources is restrictive and not in the best interests of students. It can result in unnecessary but significant damage to teaching and learning. Where textbooks are associated with particular examiners, schools and colleges tend to buy the textbooks because of their provenance.

ACME argued that issue was particularly problematic in mathematics, owing to the large proporition of non-specialist teachers of mathematics, who require support in their teaching and subject knowledge, and for whom good textbooks are one source of such support. The issue is all the more serious given the lack of guidance on teaching and learning in many schemes of work in mathematics.

ACME argues that stricter rules than those proposed in this consultation are required. The proposed 'conflicts of interest' condition does not go far enough. A clear line should be drawn between examining and textbook writing and senior examiners should not be permitted to publish textbooks or curriculum materials. Awarding organisations should be prevented from using their names or logos on textbooks.

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