Head defies blundering exam board

A HEADTEACHER has told how he defied a blundering exam board to make sure his students' GCSE grades were not put at risk. The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) yesterday apologised for an “administrative error” that meant 11,000 humanities GCSE papers were sent out without a vital document.

A HEADTEACHER has told how he defied a blundering exam board to make sure his students' GCSE grades were not put at risk.

The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) yesterday apologised for an “administrative error” that meant 11,000 humanities GCSE papers were sent out without a vital document.

The all-important “sourcebook”- copies of which had been used in the lead up to the exams by pupils -

contained information on which the exam questions were based.


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But none of the 150 schools whose students sat the exam on Monday - the first of this year's written GCSE exams - were sent the booklet with the test papers.

Staff at King Edward VI School, in Grove Road, Bury St Edmunds, were told of the problem just 50 minutes before the exam was due to start.

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Headteacher Geoff Barton immediately called the AQA and asked whether he was allowed to photocopy a clean copy of the sourcebook for his students.

The board urged him not to because it would mean his pupils would have an advantage over other schools unable to print off copies.

But Mr Barton decided, with just 40 minutes to go before the exam was set to begin, to act against the exam board's guidance and photocopied more than 300 copies of the sourcebook for his candidates.

Describing the situation as “a mess”, Mr Barton said: “I am paid to do the best I can for my students. I told the board that unless they could guarantee that all 150 schools would not be supplying their pupils with the sourcebook I would be printing copies of it.

“I told them we would not disadvantage our students. They were unable to make that guarantee.”

But the situation has left the AQA with two sets of exam papers - those in which candidates did have a sourcebook to work with and those that did not.

Claire Ellis, AQA spokeswoman, said the exam board accepted the error was their fault and confirmed that fresh copies of the sourcebook had not been sent out as they should have been.

She added that examiners would have to take the problems into account when deciding grades. She said: “Staff here really feel so badly that this could happen - it is something that is thankfully extremely rare.”

Hilary Bucky , regional secretary for the National Union of Teachers, said: “Such problems are not as rare as one would want them to be. The examination period is a very stressful time particularly for students but also the teachers who have been part of the whole endeavour.”

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