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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Exam board admits 'printing error'
IT room
A printing error was to blame, says Edexcel
The exam board, Edexcel, has been involved in another examination paper error.

Some versions of a government and politics AS-level - which were sat on Tuesday - were found to contain misleading information.

The Liberal Democrats have said it is time Edexcel's licence was withdrawn.

Matt Cole, a teacher at the King Edward 6th Sixth Form College in Stourbridge, said his students had been "confused" by the printing error.


Half a term's preparation for one question on the exam paper is now meaningless - it's very frustrating

Matt Cole, teacher
The error - where the number of MPs elected in 1997 and 2001 was reversed - was spotted by one of his students within minutes, said Mr Cole.

He welcomed an assurance by Edexcel that examiners would take account of the blunder, but said it would be difficult to be fair.

"Working out what the effect of this has been will be virtually impossible.

"Some students will have noticed the mistake in the table and answered an alternative question for which they were less confident and less well prepared - so it will be impossible to compensate those students.

"Half a term's preparation for one question on the exam paper is now meaningless - it's very frustrating," said Mr Cole.

Printers' apology

Edexcel - which was at the centre of problems last summer - has confirmed there was a problem with the paper.

The board blames a printing error but said they did not know how many of the 600 schools taking the exam were affected.

An investigation has been launched and the printers have apologised for the mistake.


We sincerely regret any disturbance to candidates and centres

John Kerr, Edexcel
"An error was spotted on the above paper last month," Edexcel boss John Kerr said.

"An amendment was made and a reprint of the paper was ordered in good time to allow our printers to send it to schools and colleges registered for this exam," said Mr Kerr.

"Regrettably the printers used the uncorrected artwork to print and so some of the papers contain a mistake.

"We sincerely regret any disturbance to candidates and centres, particularly at a time when we have been working so hard and successfully towards reducing such errors."

Watchdog disappointed

Mr Kerr said no student would be disadvantaged, as examiners would be aware of the matter and allowances made.


It is time for the government to withdraw the examination contract from Edexcel and to set up an independent inquiry into the UK's examination system

Liberal Democrat Phil Willis
The exams watchdog, the Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA) says it is "disappointed" about the error.

A spokesman said: "QCA has been working closely with Edexcel to improve quality systems and progress has been made.

"Both Edexcel and the printer have apologised for any disruption to centres.

"All errors are regrettable and QCA will be closely monitoring the situation to ensure further improvements and to ensure that no student is disadvantaged."

One of the MPs about whom the mistake was made - the Liberal Democrat education spokesman, Phil Willis, said: "Lost papers, insufficient markers, unanswerable questions set and a failure to guarantee examination integrity is making a mockery of Britain's education system.

"It is time for the government to withdraw the examination contract from Edexcel and to set up an independent inquiry into the UK's examination system."

See also:

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