A-level results: Laura Spence gets straight 'A's

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The Independent Online

Laura Spence, the comprehensive school pupil whose rejection by Oxford University, led to the debate about university élitism, yesterday achieved five A-levels at grade A.

Laura Spence, the comprehensive school pupil whose rejection by Oxford University, led to the debate about university élitism, yesterday achieved five A-levels at grade A.

Laura, who has an unconditional offer of a place at Harvard to read biochemistry, was celebrating along with thousands of sixth formers who received their results. She scored A grades in geography, biology, chemistry, English and general studies.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, started the controversy when he described her rejection as scandalous. Magdalen College defended itself by pointing out that thousands of applicants with straight As are rejected every year.

Last night, Dr Paul Kelley, head of Laura's school, Monkseaton Community High School in Whitley Bay, north Tyneside, said: "We are extremely proud of her achievements. The failure of the admissions system in this country is clear."

Another state school student said he had turned down Jesus College, Oxford because the course was old-fashioned and he had been put off by independent school candidates he met at interview.

Evan Green, a pupil at The Chase School, a Malvern comprehensive, got five grade As in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, German and General Studies. He has chosen to go to Imperial College, London to read Material Sciences and Engineering. He said: "The course seemed very backward at Oxford and it seemed to be a very closed environment. The richer public school people went round in groups."

Identical twins Simon and Andrew West applied to study computing at Cambridge, offering the same A-levels in maths, further maths, chemistry, physics and general studies. The 17-year-olds, from Healing, near Grimsby, were both celebrating straight A passes yesterday. Yet, while Andrew gained a place at Churchill College, his brother was turned down by the dons and will study instead at Imperial College, London.

Andrew said: "We did not compete over our applications to Cambridge and Simon applied to a different college, but we have always competed over our results."

* Admissions' officers yesterday reported the busiest ever start to the annual scramble for university places. Nearly 5,000 people called a helpline run by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), whose website handled 160,000 course searches by lunchtime.

A total of 84,304 people will immediately go into clearing, which matches students with places. But 134,785 students are still waiting for decisions, a figure swelled by Scottish students still waiting for results.

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