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Chance to learn from exam mistakes;Exams

Thousands of A-level and GCSE candidates will get a second look at their papers after marking this summer. Sarah Cassidy reports

THOUSANDS of A-level and GCSE candidates will discover where they went wrong when they see their marked papers this summer.

Exam boards are to return GCSE scripts to 200 schools as part of a pilot scheme to make the exam process more transparent. Photocopies of their A-level entrants' scripts will also be sent to around 1,000 schools and colleges across the country.

The Government hopes to introduce a national exam return scheme and the pilots will investigate how it could work in practice. At present, boards are not obliged to show exam scripts to anyone -even when a paper is subject to an appeal.

Exam boards and teaching unions were hostile to the idea when it was first mooted last summer. They fear it could lead to unnecessary bureaucracy and additional appeals.

The scheme may also mean extra costs for schools, which could be forced to hold special open days during the summer holidays to allow candidates to see their papers.

The Government's exam quango, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, is considering five different ways of returning scripts. Some schools will have all their scripts returned, others will only receive papers requested by individual candidates. Some schools will allow candidates to take their papers away; others will only allow them to view scripts under controlled conditions before the papers are returned to the board. The A-level pilot will return photocopies only.

But Dr Ron McLone, convenor of the Joint Council for GCSE and GCE, said the pilot would not necessarily reveal problems in administering a nationwide scheme.

He said: "I think we will find that some bureaucratic problems arise out of dealing with the volume of a national scheme. It could be a huge administrative burden and will certainly mean added costs. We will have to judge whether the benefits of the scheme are worth the extra cost."

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