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Thursday, 10 January, 2002, 09:11 GMT
Student to sue exams body
exam sign
Claire Bowen is suing Scotland's exam authority
An 18-year-old student is suing the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) for distress after problems with her exam results.

Lawyers for Claire Bowen said she was the first pupil to take action against the SQA following the exams fiasco two years ago.

The SQA said Ms Bowen's case was unfortunate, but has refused to comment further.

About 17,000 pupils across Scotland received either missing or inaccurate results in the autumn of 2000.

SQA staff
Thousands of pupils' results were affected

The SQA avoided similar mistakes in 2001, with results delivered accurately and on time.

Claire Bowen was a pupil at St David's High School, in Dalkeith, when she was told she had failed her Higher music exam.

Ms Bowen had expected to pass and appealed the decision.

However, that appeal was turned down and she had to study the same subject the following academic year.

But in May 2001, the SQA told Ms Bowen they had made a mistake and that she had in fact passed the exam.

Appeal failed

She had been hoping to study art in her final school year, but those plans were abandoned when she was told she would have to resit music.

Ms Bowen's lawyer, Cameron Fyfe, is seeking compensation for the distress caused by the mix-up and the damage to her academic career.

The SQA said Ms Bowen's case was unfortunate but would not comment further as the matter was in the hands of their solicitors.

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Fyfe said: "Claire was told she had failed her music Higher, she lodged an appeal and was told that was unsuccessful.

Cameron Fyfe
Cameron Fyfe: "Claire was told she failed"

"So she decided to resit it and spent most of her sixth year studying restudying the subject.

"Then in May 2001, totally out of the blue, she got a letter from the SQA saying 'you have passed it all along'.

"So she feels she has unnecessarily spent a whole year studying a subject for a second time."

Mr Fyfe said there were two aspects to the claim.

One would be for the distress and anxiety she endured because of the exams body's mistake.

The second, he said, was over the damage to her academic career and the chance Ms Bowen may miss out on a university place.

In September 2001, the then Education Minister Jack McConnell unveiled proposals to reform the SQA.

He proposed a reduction in the number of people on the board of the exams and outlined plans for closer communication with Scottish Executive ministers.

Cameron Fyfe, lawyer
"Claire feels she has unnecessarily spent a whole year studying a subject for a second time"
See also:

13 Sep 01 | Scotland
Shake-up for exams body
15 Aug 01 | Scotland
Pressure for exams shake-up
14 Aug 01 | Scotland
Exams body gets its sums wrong
14 Aug 01 | Scotland
Exams body gets it right - almost
13 Aug 01 | Scotland
Scottish results arrive early
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