[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
GCSEs scrapped after van losses
exam room
The exams involved are due to be taken in June
Almost half a million GCSE exam papers are being replaced following an "inadvertent spillage" from one delivery van and a theft from another.

The security breaches affect a dozen exams in science, history and French set by the AQA exam board.

They are due to be taken by students next month. Replacement papers are being printed and sent out.

AQA has apologised to schools and colleges for the inconvenience. It says students should carry on as normal.


The board's letter to exam centres said the security breaches were "the result of the theft of a Parcelforce van which, as part of its load, was carrying AQA question papers for routine delivery to centres for this summer's examinations and to the inadvertent spillage of confidential examination material from a second Parcelforce van".

AQA's director of people, communications and research, John Milner, told the BBC News website he did not have details of the incidents.

He said the board was talking to the company about what had happened.

The papers had been destined for particular locations in England but GCSEs are taken in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

When the breaches came to light, deliveries were halted.

To avoid confusion, the board was recalling all the papers which had been delivered already, prior to sending out replacements.

'Carry on' message

The replacement questions had had been intended for future exams and had been through the normal checking process already, Mr Milner said.

The whole thing would cost "many thousands of pounds".

"The main issue for us is to reassure the public, centres and students, that they are going to have the examination - the integrity has been maintained and we have taken decisive action to make sure that happens."

From the students' point of view nothing was different, he stressed - they should carry on preparing for their exams as normal.

A spokeswoman for Parcelforce said both incidents happened in April.

The van was stolen on the 19th in the Leyton area of east London. Police were investigating.

As for the "spillage" of exam papers, she said: "It appears - and we are still investigating - that they were lost from a van in Nottingham. We are not entirely sure what happened."

That matter, on April 12, came to light only when some of the papers were handed in to AQA.

The spokeswoman added that Parcelforce had been working closely with the board, had apologised for what had happened, and wished all students well with their exams.

A similar incident happened a year ago when sealed boxes containing papers for GCSE English literature, geography, German and Spanish from two exam boards were found in a street in Croydon, south of London.

They had been stolen at knifepoint from a Parcelforce van.

3468/1F Science (Double Award) A Modular Paper 1F 6 June pm
3468/1H Science (Double Award) A Modular Paper 1H 6 June pm
3469/F Science (Single Award) A Modular Written 6 June pm
3469/H Science (Single Award) A Modular Written 6 June pm
3042/7/1 History B and Short Course Paper 1 9 June pm
3042/7/2 History B and Short Course Paper 2 21 June am
36504/LF French B (Modular) Listening Foundation 9 June am
36504/LH French B (Modular) Listening Higher 9 June am
36504/RF French B (Modular) Reading Foundation 20 June pm
36504/RH French B (Modular) Reading Higher 20 June pm
36504/WF French B (Modular) Writing Foundation 20 June pm
36504/WH French B (Modular) Writing Higher 20 June pm
Source: AQA

Exam papers changed after theft
28 May 04 |  Education

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific