Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 14:49 UK

GCSE and A-level papers stolen

exam room
Some public exams take place this month

An exam board is re-setting scores of GCSE exam papers after thieves stole a van carrying papers due to be sat in the next few weeks.

The papers went missing when a delivery van carrying them was stolen in Hertfordshire two weeks ago.

The AQA exam board is re-setting 40 papers in 15 subjects because of the danger the original papers could be circulated among students.

The exam board insists the theft will not upset the exam timetable.

The Parcelforce delivery van - which was unmarked - was stolen in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, on 15 April.

Two people were unloading the van, police say, when a man jumped into the driving seat and drove away.

The van was later found near Borehamwood, with some parcels still inside and some nearby. Some of the exam papers were recovered, but some were missing.

Rare incident

The AQA board said the loss of just one exam paper from a set could mean the exam was compromised so it took the decision to replace the papers nationally.

A spokesperson said: "Incidents like this are extremely rare. However, AQA takes all such cases very seriously.

"Protecting the integrity of our examinations and the interests of all candidates taking those examinations are our paramount concerns.

"All replacement papers are subject to our normal thorough quality assurance procedures and the regulator has been kept fully informed of our actions."

In most cases, the spokeswoman said, the exam board was bringing forward papers it had ready for future exams.

A spokesperson for England's exams regulator Ofqual said: "AQA has informed us that there has been a security breach, involving a number of examination papers.

"Ofqual is confident that AQA has taken the necessary steps to ensure that candidates will not be affected and that the integrity of the exams will not be compromised."

The theft is being investigated by Hertfordshire police. They have asked anyone with information to call them on 0845 3300222.

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