The wait and the worry

20th October 2000 at 01:00
Pupils affected by the Scottish Qualifications Authority exams fiasco have had their turn to address the parliamentary inquiry. This is what a representative few said about the anxiety that not receiving their results has caused them

An incomplete certificate

Lewis MacKinnon, Uddingston Grammar

When August 10 came, my Higher results did not. I waited but they had still not come by the late post. I was concerned, so I phoned the school to find out whether it had received notification.

The school did not know what had happened, so I phoned the SQA helpline, which I had seen mentioned on television. I was told to phone the school again and then phone the helpline back.

The school still did not know anything; it was in the same position as me.

I phoned the SQA helpline again. The people there reluctantly said that they could give me the results via the phone, but would prefer it if I waited until my results came.

I was anxious, so I asked them to tell me the results. They went through each result, but omitted my physics one.

I told them that I had sat Higher physics and asked what had happened with that. They said that they did not have any record of it. I was concerned, because I had done quite well in physics and hoped to study it further in sixth year.

The next day the results finally came in the post. When I read through it, it turned out that only two of the three physics unit tests that I had passed had been recorded.

I had got an A in my external assessment - the exam that you sit in May or June. I had passed all my unit tests and got an A for the exam, so I expected an A. However, there was no record of me sitting the third unit test.

It had been sent away with the rest of the information.

I let the school know and received notification in September that there had been a problem and I would get the result eventually.

I have yet to receive a complete certificate. I received a letter from the SQA, which said that there had been a complication and that I was due an A for Higher physics. However, I am still waiting for my full certificate.

Two out of five were missing

Namita Veer Nayyar, Hamilton Grammar

I sat five Highers last year, but when my results came out I had been given only three of them: maths, English and history.

For physics, I was given only two of the units and the external exam was mentioned under external assessments. For chemistry, I was given only two of the units and there was no mention of the external exam.

I went down to the school, but it did not have the results either.

The next day, I called the school again and was told that I had got a band 9 for chemistry, which was six bands below my predicted grade, so the school was surprised.

I called the SQA many times, but it was not until the first week in September that I got confirmation that my physics result was a B and that I would eventually be given that grade.

More than a week later - four weeks after I should have got my results - I was told that my chemistry result was a C. The school then put in an appeal for my chemistry result, but I was told last week that it would stay as a C.

I was quite disappointed about that because my UCAS form has to be submitted to the school by tomorrow and I will have to write a C on it. For the course that I want to apply to, the University of Glasgow discounts Cs, and chemistry is the most important subject for that course. I feel that what has happened will affect my chances of getting a place on the dentistry course that I want to do.

The teachers were suspicious because a few of us, all at the bottom of the register alphabetically, had failed. It was not just me; there were others who had been predicted to get an A or B but got 8 or 9 when the results came back.

Have UI really failed

Jennifer Irvine, Earnock High

I sat three Highers and one Intermediate 2. I got my results but my modern studies was not mentioned. I was shocked by that, as I had done well in the prelim.

We tried to get through to the helpline but it was engaged. My dad eventually got through from work and the people confirmed that I had failed modern studies.

I am still waiting for my appeal.

My mum tried to get through to the helpline but failed, so I went up to the school to speak to Mr Sherry. He explained that, if the result was not on the certificate, I might have failed. The school did not have the results. It took a few days for them to come through.

I thought it was just me. I was not aware of the problems the media had been talking about as I had been on holiday and had got home the night before.

I am waiting for my modern studies to come through, but I am studying my first choice subjects.

No record of my exam

Christina Fotheringham, Hamilton Grammar

When my Standard grade results came out there was no mention of my accounting and finance, but I was not worried to begin with as I had heard that there were problems.

About a week later, I received a second set of results stating that further information had become available and any improvement in my grades would be shown.

I thought that I had failed, as the second set of results was the same as the first and still did not show accounting and finance. However, when I went back to school, I was told that I was recorded as not having sat the exam as the SQA had misplaced a small group of accounting and finance exam papers from my school.

I am still waiting for my result. It would have affected me if the school had not allowed me to take accounting and finance as a Higher, but fortunately it has.

The teacher found out that a small group of people were showing up as not having sat the exam. He thought that it was impossible that none of us had turned up.

I have been told that my result will have to be based on an estimate from my teacher, which I will get around October or November. I felt disappointed because I knew that, although I had put the work in and the teacher had put the work in in teaching us, the SQA had mixed it up.

I felt there would be no point phoning the SQA helpline as I thought that it was prioritising the Higher candidates. I thought the best people to contact would be at school. I was fortunate, as they had the information that the SQA had misplaced my result.

My estimate from my prelim was a 1, so they estimated that I would get the same for my Standard grade final exam.

The frustrating phone calls

Alan Burns, Uddingston Grammar

I did not receive a certificate on the day the results were due. We phoned the school to see whether it had my Higher results but it did not have anything, so Mum phoned the SQA helpline.

The SQA had my results but it was not able to give them to us over the phone. The bloke actually said: 'I've got Alan's results here on the computer screen in front of me, but I'm not permitted to give them out at this time.' We were told to phone the school again to find out whether it had them.

We phoned the school again, but it said that it was unlikely to have them until the next day.

In the afternoon, my dad phoned the SQA helpline from his work. He got the results from them. I had got four As but, like Lewis, nothing for physics - a unit assessment had been missed out.

When my results came the next day the certificate was incomplete. I had four As, but one unit from the physics was missing.

At that point, I had a fail for Higher physics and four As from my other exams. Physics was an important part of my results. I could not go to university if I had wanted to when clearing took place. I was left with no choice: I had to go back to school.

In the weeks before your results come out, tension builds up and you get more nervous. On the day, you just want to get your results and get it over with: afterwards, you can relax. But I could not because my results did not come. I am still highly strung and worried about what is going to happen.

I received a letter on September 5, confirming that I had got my pass in Higher physics. The SQA said that that letter could serve as my certificate, for the purposes of getting the correct codes. It said that it would send me a completed certificate in due course. I have still not received it.

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