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Wednesday, 3 October, 2001, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Exams body admits results error
exam candidates
Pupils have taken on new workload with AS-Level exams
An English examinations board has admitted that pupils at a County Londonderry grammar school were given the wrong marks in their AS-Level exams this year.

It is the latest in a series of mistakes made by exams boards in providing results for both A-Levels and the new Advanced Subsidiary exams, which are the first year of A-Levels.

Dominican College in Portstewart was concerned about the poor results its pupils received in their English Literature AS-Level exams.

When the school queried the results with the Edexcel exam board, 18 of the 22 pupils were upgraded, some from an E to an A grade.

The new results arrived at the end of last week, more than a month after the original grades were delivered.

'Administrative error'

It is understood Edexcel is blaming administrative error, but a spokesman for the school said he was "amazed at the discrepancies".

After this year's exams, another English examinations board, used widely by Northern Ireland schools, AQA, delivered AS Business Studies results late to Bangor Grammar School after apparently losing some papers.

The same board had to upgrade 200 pupils in seven schools after A-Level papers were said to have been marked wrongly and later lost.

The English boards have been criticised over their marking performance, in a year when the new AS levels brought a much heavier workload for teachers and pupils.

The boards are said to have had problems recruiting enough teachers to do the marking.


Reacting to news of the error, East Londonderry assembly member for the SDLP John Dallat called on the government to review the operation of Edexcel.

You cannot expect a professional service on the cheap

Tom McKee
He said: "The blunder by the examination body, if it had not been detected, could have had a devastating effect on the pupils concerned.

"As it is, this mistake has already caused the pupils much distress and could have affected their self-esteem and self-confidence.

"Perhaps it is time that the British minister for education began to assess the professionalism of this examination body to ensure mistakes like this never occur again."

'Low markers' pay'

Teachers' union official Tom McKee today said the mistake showed the consequences of examinations bodies paying very low marking fees to markers.

"The Edexcel examining group itself has admitted the problem is due to difficulty in recruiting sufficient markers," the NASUWT regional official in Northern Ireland noted.

He said: "If markers are paid approximately 3 per script, their overall hourly pay is barely 10 per hour before deductions.

"You cannot expect a professional service on the cheap."

BBC NI education correspondent Maggie Taggart:
"The boards are said to have had trouble recruiting enough people to mark the new AS-Levels"
See also:

21 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Exams body 'sorry' over grading error
21 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Red letter day for GCSE students
30 Mar 01 | Education
Concern over new A-level results
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