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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Angry e-mails claim exam whitewash
Keyboard
Students have been e-mailing their doubts
Students and their families, caught up in the dispute over this year's A-level results, have not been impressed by the re-grading process completed on Tuesday.

This is the clear message of e-mails sent into BBC News Online.

And many have challenged the way that the inquiry into the results only examined grading boundaries, rather than how papers were marked.


The whole process has been something of a cover-up

Paul Buckley, parent

"My daughter Emma has had no changes in her grades as a result of the re-grade exercise," wrote Jenny Kelsey.

"My question is simple - is anything going to be done about the many students like Emma who received an unexplicable U grade in coursework? Or is the whole issue to be swept under the carpet?"

And Ms Kelsey feared that the inquiry's focus on grade boundaries would mean that the problem of coursework marking would never be addressed.

This was echoed by a student, George Havenhand, who had missed out on a place offered at Oxford - and who dismissed the re-grading process as "damage limitation".

"I thought it strange that re-marking wasn't considered in the Tomlinson report, this being the issue central to every complaint that I know or have heard of. He applied a spin which made the boundaries the issue," wrote Mr Havenhand.


I have been around, and in public service, long enough to recognise a whitewash job, and am disgusted

Charles Clarke, parent

This feeling that the inquiry was looking in the wrong place was expressed by a teacher, concerned by the unresolved problem in his school.

"I am a teacher with 30 years experience of guiding pupils when submitting A-level geography coursework," wrote P.R. Watson.

"In that time out of approximately 500 entries, only two or three have received a grade U. This year we had only six entries but of these five were graded U. I know that at least three of these pupils deserved a grade B for their work. They still have grade U.

"We are not talking re-grades here, we are talking re-marking which has not been done. It is absolutely disgraceful that our pupils have not been rewarded for the work that they have done."

A parent told a similar story of their son's grade being dragged down by a U-grade in history coursework, which teachers had predicted as an A or B.


Whether it's a cover up, a conspiracy or a cock up, currently it's the students who are being punished

Michael Attenborough, student

"There is a clear picture emerging of a reluctance to re-grade, disingenuous briefing and a determination to weasel through this scandal even if doing so unfairly penalises many individuals," wrote Charles Clarke.

"I have been around, and in public service, long enough to recognise a whitewash job, and am disgusted."

This theme of not addressing problems with coursework was taken up by Sarah Sadek.

"I believe this enquiry was inefficient. The students were arguing that individual papers had been marked down, particularly the coursework.

"The enquiry just assessed the grading system, which is a different matter. They should have another enquiry assessing the marking system."


What guidance can we take when even the teachers are mystified as to what exactly the boards are looking for?

A. Millen, parent

A student who has missed out on a university place altogether this year has written to express his suspicions about this year's results.

Michael Attenborough had scored all As and Bs in his history A-level, but an unexpected U in coursework had dragged down his grade, so that he could not take up his offers.

"Whether it's a cover up, a conspiracy or a cock up, currently it's the students who are being punished, when they are the one group clearly not to blame.

A parent, worried about their son's U-grade in history coursework, asked how they were meant to make decisions about re-sits when teachers did not seem to understand the exam boards' decisions.

Another parent, Chris Fuller, said: "My daughter's history A-level has been upgraded from B to A. She was previously one mark below an A.

"However, the question of why she received a U for her coursework and A for all other units has not been resolved. The enquiry has not got to the bottom of why so many U grades were handed out for coursework, to students whose work was clearly expected to gain high grades."


I missed out on an A in my AS level Spanish by just 2% and today found out that I had been upgraded to an A.

Alexander Leonard, student

"Should he re-sit the coursework module when the outcome could be just as unfair as this year. What guidance can he take when even the teachers are mystified as to what exactly the boards are looking for?"

Another parent, Paul Buckley, said that his daughter had had an unexpectedly low mark in her A-level psychology coursework.

This had lowered her grade, but not affected her university place, but Mr Buckley still felt that "the whole process has been something of a cover-up".

And there was an account of a disappointing near-miss from a student who had scored A-grades in four modules and an unexpected U-grade in the fifth. This left the student only three marks adrift of an A-grade - and the re-grade only added two marks.

But he warned that this dispute was not over and "the fall-out has not yet begun".

There was some good news. Alexander Leonard was able to report that his AS-level Spanish had been revised upwards to an A grade.

"I missed out on an A in my AS level Spanish by just 2% and today found out that I had been upgraded to an A. It is good that the review has taken place for the sake of the few candidates for whom their overall grades have changed."

The alleged A-level grades manipulation

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15 Oct 02 | Education
15 Oct 02 | Education
15 Oct 02 | Education
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