Pupils miss out on university after papers are lost

24th August 2012 at 01:00
Exam board admits it only noticed mistake three weeks ago

Pupils believe they have missed out on university places because their A-level history papers were lost, TES has learned. The exam was sat by 20 pupils at Knights Templar School in Hertfordshire in June. But it only emerged on A-level results day last week that their completed papers were missing.

Exam board OCR has calculated replacement grades for the pupils based on their previous performance in AS levels and coursework, but for some these were lower than they expected to achieve in the exam. At least two have lost university places because the replacement grades did not meet their offers.

Taylor Kingham was predicted an A grade in her history A level, which was vital to meet her AAC offer from the University of Sheffield to study business. But OCR allocated a B after her paper was lost, leaving her a grade short and having to settle for a place at Nottingham Trent University instead.

"I wouldn't have minded if I had actually got a B through my own fault," she said. "I would like to know how they worked out our grades. I was very upset. I think (OCR) should have told us earlier and done more to try to compensate."

Pupils were unaware that there was a problem until early last Thursday, when they checked on the Ucas website to see if they had met their university offers. After going into school to pick up their actual results, the pupils discovered their full history grades were missing. OCR only confirmed that the papers had been lost after the school called on results day.

Chris Weeks missed out twice because his paper was lost. First, when he failed to secure his place at the University of Lincoln after OCR allocated him a D in history rather than the C he was confident of achieving. He lost out again in clearing because of the time spent trying to get the exam board and university to reconsider. He now plans to wait a year before going to university.

"It is now too late for me for clearing, I think, because all the good courses will have gone," he said. "If I had actually gone into that exam and that had happened then fair enough. But there is no way I would have got anything less than a C.

"They (OCR) haven't said sorry and I've missed out on my place. The least they could have done is apologise."

OCR admitted it only realised the papers were missing on 31 July. An examiner had failed to report the loss within five working days, as guidelines demanded, and the board said action would be taken.

"We are deeply sorry," a spokeswoman added. "We understand that the loss of scripts is an upsetting situation for students. I would emphasise that the use of 'assessed' grades is rare, and that we are committed to improving our processes."

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