Upgrades for 10,000 students but sacked watchdog says fuss was 'unnecessary'
Tuesday 15 October 2002
Thousands of students will discover today whether they were victims of A-level downgrading when Britain's three exam boards reveal how many candidates were given the wrong grades this summer.
Up to 2,000 students are thought to have been upgraded. An inquiry was ordered into this summer's exams by Estelle Morris, the Secretary of State for Education, after schools complained that students had been unfairly downgraded.
As many as 10,000 students are expected to be upgraded today in some parts of their exam work by the Oxford and Cambridge exam board, OCR. Of these changes, 700 are believed to have been made to AS- level exam papers and 1,200 to A-level papers. But in only between 1,000 and 2,000 cases will this have made a difference to their overall grades.
Sir William Stubbs, the former head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, launched a scathing attack on Ms Morris yesterday.He said the Education Secretary, who sacked him last month, had "done widespread damage to the reputation of the new [A-level] exam" from which it may never recover. He added that the figure of up to 2,000 regradings was "in line" with the number of students who were upgraded every year, and he dismissed Ms Morris's intervention as "unnecessary".
Many students lost university places after receiving unexpectedly poor exam results and their plans depend on the outcome of the regrading process. Others accepted places at their second-choice institutions, but may want to switch courses if they get upgraded.
Lawyers have said many of these students may want to sue for compensation if the exam boards confirm that they were given the wrong grades. The students also face a scramble for university places after the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service said they had only 11 days to decide whether to change courses.
Sir William called on Tony Blair to set up a Royal Commission to review exam arrangements.
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