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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
A-level students 'could sue'
exam hall
Students say their hard work did not pay off
Hundreds of students unhappy at the on-going fiasco over A-level grades may consider taking legal action, lawyers warned.

The Tomlinson inquiry into allegations of grade fixing said some papers should be re-graded, but students are still waiting to find out which subjects will be re-assessed.


There have been two independent inquiries already and the boards were cleared completely of any wrong-doing

AQA exam board
In the meantime many are in limbo, wondering whether to take up places at their second or third choice universities, whether to take a year out or whether to study for examination re-sits.

Now education lawyers say they are already being approached by students who want to sue for the damages they have suffered.

Exam boards condemned the litigation culture, saying lawyers were the only people likely to benefit.

'Robbed'

One of the students affected, Josh Plotkin, said he would consider legal action.

Josh Plotkin
Josh Plotkin: Angry at the situation
"I think that me and many others in my situation have been robbed of their places," said Josh.

"I was robbed of all my places for this year, but many people have been robbed of their first choice places which is almost as bad.

"And I just think it's affecting a great many people's lives in a massive way."

'Negligence'

Leading education lawyer Robert Boyd said, while there could be no compensation without wrong-doing, he believed students could have a case for damages.

"There may be an action against an individual board or against the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority," said Mr Boyd.

"The grounds for action would broadly be this - first of all an action of negligence, breach of a duty of care owed to the student and secondly breach of contract."

Mr Boyd said students may be able to claim for having to take an unwanted gap year and losing out on the first year of post-graduate earnings.

"Then there's severe distress - in some cases diagnosed as an illness and there is, of course, a ruined summer for all of these students and disappointment over their university places."

'Exonerated'

But George Turnbull, spokesman for the Assessment and Qualification Alliance, said the situation was just a money-making exercise for lawyers.

"There have been two independent inquiries already and the boards were cleared completely of any wrong-doing," he said.

"We are becoming very litigious and the people who will benefit in particular are the lawyers.

"We're going down the American route, and in America in examinations they have tick-box examinations which means somebody counts up the number of correct answers and there's no judgement at all so they don't get sued in the courts.

"But schools and all sorts of places are now being sued and the lawyers must be loving this."

Details of how the re-grading will be applied are expected to be announced by Mike Tomlinson, head of the independent inquiry, on Wednesday.

The alleged A-level grades manipulation

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TOMLINSON INQUIRY

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See also:

28 Sep 02 | Education
30 Sep 02 | Education
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