Friday, 4 May 2007
MTAS- an 'exam' of sorts
It is hard to write when one is thinking of violently beheading certain individuals, but here goes; the Information Commissioner has responded to calls forcing MTAS scores to be released by accepting the Department of Health explanation that MTAS is an 'exam'! Un-bloody-believable.
It turns out there are 'exceptions' in the Data protection act:
"the Act also contains a number of exemptions which allow data controllers to refuse or postpone a response to a subject access request in certain defined circumstances. One such exemption relates to examination marks. This allows the data controller to postpone responses to subject access requests for examination marks for either a period of 5 months from the date that the subject access request was received or forty days from the date of the announcement of the examination results, whichever is the earlier. The purpose of this exemption is to ensure that the examination process is not prejudiced by candidates obtaining information about their results before the date on which these would normally be announced."
"When I queried this with the DoH I was informed that, having taken legal advice, the Department had decided that the MTAS short-listing process equated to the definition of an examination in the Act and therefore considered that it was reasonable to delay responses to subject access requests until such time as all appointments into the speciality training programme for the year were completed."
The definition of an exam under the Data protection act is here, and I find the argument that MTAS can be considered as an examination to be wafer thin to say the least.
If MTAS was an exam that it was probably the worst exam ever. There were no exam conditions as candidates had two weeks in which to prepare their answers. The marking schemes were leaked which meant that certain candidates had a massively unfair advantage. There were also companies selling the answers and marking schemes, not the most level playing field really. Some sets of answers were lost while others were marked by untrained examiners. There was no way of detecting plagiarism effectively and the examiners did not have adequate time to do the job properly. The exam was even finally admitted to be complete and utter pants by those who had devised it!
It was truly the worst shambles of an 'exam' that I have ever sat. Come to think of it, I wonder if I passed, surely they'll be dishing out A*s for all? It is New Labour after all.