Inquiry launched after exam error

AN investigation has been launched after 160 pupils sat the wrong exam paper at a north Suffolk school - and now they face the ordeal of taking the exam for a second time.

AN investigation has been launched after 160 pupils sat the wrong exam paper at a north Suffolk school - and now they face the ordeal of taking the exam for a second time.

After the Year 11 students at Leiston High School took their GCSE short course in Religious Education (RE) exam last week, it was discovered they had sat the wrong paper.

They were supposed to have taken an exam paper called “Religion and Society” but instead took “Religion and Life”.

Now the teenagers will have to sit through an extra exam to take the correct paper. This will be on June 12.

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Meanwhile, an investigation into the error has been launched.

Ian Flintoff, headteacher, said he did not how the mistake occurred but he said the titles of the two papers were very close.

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He said: “There are many factors that could have contributed which will be part of the investigation.

“Our first point of call was the students, they come first, and we let them know on the same day, gave them all a letter to take back to their parents and we've arranged for them to take the correct paper.

“They will not lose out and they will not be disadvantaged at all.”

Mr Flintoff said there was no need for the school to have both of the papers because the students only sit one exam to gain the qualification.

“Finding out why we had two papers will be part of the process,” he said. “We get whatever we order in and it boils down to GCSE entries. We have to give the paper code and papers come in accordingly.”

The students have been studying for the compulsory exam one lesson a week for more than two years.

It is a short course GCSE, which is the equivalent to half a GCSE.

“The pupils have been very good and very understanding,” said the headteacher. “We've had a few comments about how they could've been in this situation and we've had very few phone calls from parents. It's very rare for something like this to happen in my experience.”

Mr Flintoff said he did not think the students have been too traumatised by the experience of taking exams.

He said: “What we've been doing is running breakfast sessions with bacon rolls, fruit and tea before all the exams and we arranged pre-exam revision sessions so I don't think they've been desperately unhappy.”

A parent of one of the students who took the wrong exam said her daughter was not fazed by it at all.

She added: “The next day she said 'well, it was just like a practice run' and she just accepted it.”

The examining body Edexcel has been notified of the error and the 15 to 16-year-olds will be able to retake the exam without any detriment next month.

A spokesperson from Edexcel said: “We have referred it to our complaints team and an investigation will be carried out.”

A spokesperson from Suffolk County Council said it was an “admin error” that has been put right and no one will be disadvantaged when taking the exam on June 12, which does not clash with any other exams on the day.

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