Pupil's posthumous award

2nd April 2004 at 01:00
Parents of a 15-year-old boy who was killed in a bicycle accident want to have his GCSEs marked so that his certificate can be awarded posthumously.

James Hadfield, a pupil at Belmont school, Rawtenstall, Lancashire, died from head injuries after he lost control of his BMX close to his home last month.

Peter and Melanie Hadfield, his father and step-mother, have persuaded the independent school for pupils with behavioural and emotional difficulties to lobby to have his exams, which are based entirely on coursework, marked by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance exam board.

Mr Hadfield, 36, said: "I know it sounds daft, but I'd like to see James's efforts rewarded. He was like me at school. I couldn't sit in one place and was easily distracted. He too was the class clown in junior and high school, but Belmont nurtured him and put him on the straight and narrow.

"His whole attitude changed. Whereas in the past we had to force him to go to school, when he was at Belmont he would get up and go himself.

"It was a real achievement to see my son turn his life around. I was so proud when he was entered for his GCSEs."

James moved to Belmont from Gawthorpe high, Burnley, in November 2002 after he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

At Belmont he completed coursework for GCSEs in English, maths, ICT and art and nine entry-level GCSEs - which are easier than ordinary GCSEs and are based entirely on coursework.

Graham McEwan, head of Belmont, is now negotiating with AQA about having the work entered. He said: "His death is very tragic and sad. He did really well since he joined us in Year 10. His relationships with his peers and teachers were excellent. It was standing room only at the cremation. There were pupils from his previous school too."

Where pupils cannot complete their exams because of sickness, grades are arrived at by considering teacher assessments and marks on completed parts of the paper.

An AQA spokeswoman said: "Thankfully, this is a rare situation. However, it does sometimes happen and when it does we do whatever we can to accommodate the request and make a posthumous award."

The cycle and skateboard park in Piccadilly road, Burnley, where James had his fatal accident, has been closed. Burnley's health and safety executive is investigating the incident.

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