Page last updated at 14:19 GMT, Monday, 30 June 2008 15:19 UK

Review as expletive gets marks

The examiner said the expletive showed some nominal skills

An exam board is to review its marking guidance after one of its top examiners gave marks for a script which contained only a two-word sexual expletive.

The Times reported that Assessment and Qualifications Alliance chief examiner Peter Buckroyd gave a pupil two marks out of 27 for an English GCSE paper.

He is quoted as saying the candidate had demonstrated more skills than one "who doesn't write anything at all".

AQA said this was not in line with its guidelines, which would be clarified.

We do not condone the use of obscenities in scripts
AQA spokeswoman

The pupil is reported to have written "fuck off", and would have had another mark for adding an exclamation point.

Mr Buckroyd is quoted by the Times as saying: "It would be wicked to give it a zero because it does show some very basic skills we are looking for - like conveying some meaning and some spelling."


An AQA spokeswoman said examiners were instructed to contact the board's offices where they would be advised in accordance with the guidelines of the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents exam boards.

She said: "As a result, an obscenity should either be disregarded, or action will be taken against the candidate, depending on the seriousness of the case.

"The example cited was unique in the experience of the senior examiner concerned and was used in a pre-training session to emphasise the importance of adhering to the mark scheme: i.e. if a candidate makes any sort of response to a question then it must be at least given consideration to be awarded a mark.

"We do not condone the use of obscenities in scripts: in the light of this incident we will be reviewing our instructions to examiners which will include reiterating the procedure to be followed when encountering obscenities in scripts."

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