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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Exam board chief resigns
exam candidates
The board offers qualifications in over 6,000 schools
The chief executive of the examinations board, Edexcel, has resigned with immediate effect.

Dr Christina Townsend's resignation comes after numerous stories of students being given the wrong results or kept waiting for results hit the headlines.

This year has been a particularly demanding one

Dr Christina Townsend
The exam board - believed to be the UK's second largest - sets GNVQs, NVQs, GCSE, AS-levels, A-levels, Higher Nationals and other BTEC qualifications.

In her resignation statement, Dr Townsend said: "The time has come for a new chief executive to be appointed to strengthen and build on the foundations and for me to seek a new challenge."

"This year has been a particularly demanding one," said Dr Townsend.

"Delivering the 2001 examinations has required a 50% increase in processing and a 30% increase in examiners.

"These increases have come about in part from government and regulator requirements and in part from our stretching targets to significantly increase AS/A-level market share and to be the leading provider of vocational A-Levels and Key Skills," she said.

Bad press

The board has had much media attention in recent months, as stories of administrative errors emerged.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that 18 English literature students at a school in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, had their AS-Level grades improved after an administrative error by Edexcel staff.

In late August it was reported that more than 200 pupils in Lancashire were kept waiting by Edexcel for the results of their GCSE maths exams.

And in March, more than 10,000 sixth-formers were given the wrong results for an information technology Key Skills exam.

In total, 3,705 students, who were told they had passed, found they had in fact failed and had to re-sit the tests.

Another 6,466 students in other subjects - who had been told they had failed - were up-graded to a pass.

'Thanks and best wishes'

Responding to news of the resignation, the chairman of Edexcel, Garry Hawkes, said: "Christina Townsend leaves with our best wishes for her future and our thanks for her past contribution in bringing together BTEC and London Examinations to form Edexcel."

John Kerr, who is currently director of operations, has taken up the role of acting chief executive.

Edexcel was formed in 1996 by the merger of BTEC, the leading provider of vocational qualifications, and the University of London Examinations and Assessment Council (ULEAC), one of the major GCSE and GCE examining bodies.

Its qualifications are offered in over 6,000 schools, 450 colleges and nearly 100 higher education establishments.

See also:

03 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Exams body admits results error
24 Aug 01 | Education
Pupils still await results
22 Mar 01 | Education
Students given wrong test results
26 Jun 01 | Features
Leaked A-level inquiry goes on
14 Jun 01 | Education
A-level students feel cheated
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