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Exam board's 'unfair treatment'

Warwick Mansell looks at the latest round of successful appeals by schools against results.

A GRAMMAR SCHOOL which mistakenly taught its pupils the wrong A-level geography syllabus, only realising the error on the day they sat down to take their papers, has won its appeal against the way the exam board handled its case.

Some 14 students' grades were changed after the independent Examinations Appeals Board ruled that OCR had not treated them fairly.

In June, 2005, OCR notified schools and colleges of a new syllabus for geography. Calday Grange, a state grammar in West Kirby, Merseyside, started teaching the new specification immediately.

The following summer, its students took their exam. On the day, the school realised that the new course was not being examined until 2007. So students were faced with a paper with two sections, A and B, having only been prepared to answer questions in section B, which was covered by the new syllabus. The school argued that OCR had not indicated, when initially notifying schools of the new syllabus, when it was first due to be examined.

The board admitted this, although it said that when the full specification came out later in 2005, schools were told that 2007 would be the first exam year.

On the day of the exam, OCR advised Calday Grange to get its students to take it, and then apply for special consideration.

It then increased the students' marks, recognising that they had not been at fault. But the school was unhappy with the results, arguing that the students' grades were still too low.

The board sided with the school, criticising OCR's method for boosting the marks. The board had calculated what grade to give the students based not on their performance in section B, which they had been taught, but in section A, which they had not.

OCR was ordered to carry out alternative analyses of the students' performance, with the result that 14 grades were changed.

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