Anger over exam board's delay in regrading pupil

Teachers' leaders have called for a review of A-level appeals procedures after it took almost a year for an Eton pupil to have an exam module marked up from "unclassified" to an A.

The verdict is one of two published this week that cast doubt over A-level marking procedures. David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, called for a quicker process to ensure pupils received "speedy justice".

The Eton sixth-former's unit had been marked by OCR, the board at the centre of the 2002 A-level grading debacle. Last summer thousands of sixth-formers had their papers regraded after concerns that examiners had marked them down to head off accusations that the exams were too easy.

In the wake of this fiasco, Eton College asked OCR to re-mark one module taken by one candidate that had been graded as unclassified. The paper was then awarded an E. The school was not satisfied and lodged an appeal with OCR, which the board rejected.

Eton then took its case to the Examinations Appeal Board, an independent body.

The EAB found in favour of Eton and the grade was raised to an A. This increased the candidate's overall history grade from a C to a B. The EAB said it was unhelpful if exam boards were seen to regard examiners as infallible.

In the second case a pupil from Bedford School, an independent boys' school charging up to £16,755 a year, was upgraded from a B to an A grade in A-level history after his school spent seven months challenging the marking of the same unit contested by Eton.

Mr Hart said schools should be allowed to appeal directly to an independent body. The EAB has no power to re-mark or re-grade papers, but merely checks that exam boards followed correct procedures.

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