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“AQA’s whole mission is to deliver results people trust and the work we do ensures we get a key step right: we help ensure that marking is fair.”

Ben, Preparation Team Support Manager, AQA

Preparation is key. Find out how Ben and his team get 34,000 examiners ready for summer marking.

Ben is a Support Manager in our Preparation Team. Along with dozens of other dedicated AQA staff, he is responsible for training our examiners and moderators to an agreed standard, so that no matter which examiner marks a student’s work, the outcome is the same.

How we do this

Before marking of the summer exam series begins, Ben and the team ensure that all examiners successfully complete a standardisation process. This is so that they fully understand the mark scheme and where to award marks.

Examiners can raise questions with their team leader (a senior, experienced examiner), and through online and face-to-face exercises, examiners award what marks they believe a range of student responses merit. These are then checked by a panel of senior examiners, to see whether an examiner has interpreted the mark scheme correctly, and awarded the right number of marks. An examiner will only be allowed to start marking their allocation of students’ work when their team leader is satisfied that they understand how to apply the mark scheme correctly.

My contribution to summer 2018

My name is Ben, Support Manager in the Preparation Team – part of the Preparation and Marking team at AQA. I’m one of the leads on standardisation, including moderator standardisation and teacher standardisation. For anyone not sure, ‘standardisation’ is ensuring that everyone who's marking is working to the same standard. It's as simple as that.

Our team also deal with the training of our teacher-examiners and moderators, including training people who are totally new to examining and moderating. We make sure that our examiners have everything they need and really can do their part of the job well, which means we have to get it right ourselves first.

For me a typical day could be spent poring over a planning spreadsheet or helping with a workshop on assessment practice or strategy. During the summer we go from a team of nine up to a team of over 50 thanks to seasonal staff who are facilitating and delivering face-to-face standardisation meetings. I'm there to make sure the team are trained and prepared for those tasks.

AQA’s whole mission is to deliver results people trust, and the work we do ensures we get a key step right: we help ensure that marking is fair.

Outside of work, for eleven years I’ve organised and run not-for-profit music events in Manchester. I’ve dealt with all operational aspects of that, and I think that’s one of the reasons why I ended up in a very operational team at AQA. I’m at home when I’m planning things and organising people.

Find out what goes into preparing our examiners to mark your students’ work

Find out more about the work we do

Ben maintaining standards year-on-year

Georgina setting grade boundaries

Irene reviewing marking

Rachel reviewing moderated work