The importance of high quality standards

For many state schools, the cost of applying for a re-grade, where students' exam results are below what was expected, is too high. Eton College has produced a dossier of incidents where its pupils were given unreliable marks and believes its findings may be the tip of the iceberg. It cited the case of case of two pupils who received no marks for an A-level paper in Russian, but were subsequently re-graded at 'A' when re-marked. The dossier has been sent to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which has responded by launching an inquiry into marking standards. (The Times, 12 February 2008)

A spokesman for the QCA said it had convened a focus group last year following reports that centres where exams were taken 'had issues around marking'. The exam boards were studying the feasibility of automated alerts, so that if a centre's results were noticeably different from its usual pattern of achievement in previous years, an inquiry would be prompted without the school having to lodge a complaint. (BBC News, 8 February 2008)

An anonymous Eton teacher said: 'Many state schools have a policy where they do not ask for re-marking because of the cost. We found the inaccuracy of marks right across the examinations and across all boards. A lot of people will be seriously disadvantaged in their careers as a result of unreliable results.' (The Times, 12 February 2008)

In its leader, The Times Educational Supplement (8 February) commented: 'Eton has done the profession a service by compiling a well-sourced dossier which begs many questions about GCSE and A-level marking. The QCA has done an even bigger service by instituting an overdue enquiry into standards of marking. 'We can't have a system when candidates with zero marks need a re-mark to give them the A they deserve.'

This demonstrates the importance of organisations maintaining high quality standards. Users of a service expect it to meet certain standards. See the Times 100 case study on BSI. BSI is the UK's National Standards Body and was the pioneer in creating quality and safety standards. A standard is a document that acts as a set of rules or guidelines for everyone involved in producing goods, managing a process or delivering a service.

Another Times 100 case study shows how Enterprise Rent-a-Car identifies and satisfies customer needs. It is committed to delivering exceptionally high standards of customer service always. In the British Insurance Awards 2006, Enterprise Rent-a-Car won Service Provider of the Year.


The Times, 12 February 2008 (print edition)

The Times Online – Money talks on exam grades, 12 February 2008

BBC News – Plan to detect rogue exam results, 8 February 2008

TES – Exam boards regulator acts on complaints from schools of 'major deficiencies' in grades

The Times 100 Case Studies – BSI, Creating world class quality standards

The Times 100 Case Studies – Enterprise rent-a-car, The importance of customer service at Enterprise Rent-a-Car

Potential Study Questions:

  • Give two reasons why high quality reduces costs.
  • Give two reasons why high quality increases revenue.
  •  Explain the importance of high standards of customer care.