THOSE clever people at the Oxford and Cambridge exam board have many talents, one of which is reviewing grades in A-level art - without looking at the art itself.
Silcoates School in Wakefield uncovered this practice when it appealed against marks obtained by seven of its students in the 1997 exams. It thought that their drawings had been undervalued.
All rather routine. Except that, in their case, the board had thrown the drawings in the bin.
"Some papers were accidentally destroyed," an exam board spokesman told The TES. "We are very sorry but it is one of those things that happens."
Undeterred, the Oxford and Cambridge board re-considered the students' work - by scrutinising photos of the originals and looking at some practice pieces.
The spokesman added: "Obviously, looking at a photograph of a piece of work isn't the same as looking at the work itself. But where there was any margin of doubt at all, the benefit of that doubt was given to the candidate." Silcoates scored a minor success. Two grades from the 1997 exam were increased. But a further appeal to the exams watchdog, the Independent Appeals Authority for School Examinations, resulted in no change.
"We were surprised and disappointed that our coursework in particular should not have been taken more care of," said headteacher Paul Spillane. "One of our students fell short of her first choice of university because of her art grade."
The school has now switched exam boards.