Lineker blames £25,000-a-year school after son fails to make grade


Education Editor,Richard Garner
Tuesday 24 August 2010 00:00

Most schools would expect to deal with a handful of troublesome parents at this time of year, when the exam results season understandably causes emotions to run high. But not all of them have to cope with the ire of a former England football captain.

Gary Lineker was embroiled in a very public row with his son George's private school last night after the 18-year-old failed to get into university. The Match of the Day presenter and former England striker had chosen to send his son to the exclusive £25,000-a-year Charterhouse School in Surrey, which recently ditched A-levels in some subjects to allow pupils to do the new "Cambridge Pre-U" exam.

The qualification is said to be tougher by education traditionalists, as it eschews coursework in favour of an emphasis on the end of year exam.

Lineker said: "We don't know what's going on at the moment. [George] did the Pre-U and they seem to have been marked much harder than the A-level papers. It's all a bit frustrating as it is the first year the Pre-U exams have been used so George has been used as a guinea pig. At the moment his university place has been withdrawn but we are hoping to find a way round this. We are all very disappointed."

George was more explicit about his alma mater on his Facebook page, saying: "Didn't get into uni... cheers school u massive knobbers!" He is now one of around 160,000 youngsters expected to miss out an a university place.

However, Charterhouse remained unrepentant about its decision to opt for the Pre-U. The Reverend John Witheridge, the school's headmaster, said: "We are delighted with our pupils' excellent results this year.... we do not comment on the performance of individual pupils."

Students who take Pre-U exams cannot resit them. Cambridge International Examinations, which sets the test, says it provides more time for "great teaching and deep thought" because all of the exams take place at the end of a two-year course.

The row comes at a time when Education Secretary Michael Gove has paved the way for an expansion of the Pre-U into the state sector.

George Lineker had been planning to study business at Manchester University, where he had been offered a provisional place but had to obtain the equivalent of three B grades at A-level. Last Thursday he learned he had failed to do so.

He was spotted on a week-long holiday to Tenerife only a few weeks before his exams, and in March was pictured on a night out with Sophie Reade, a 21-year-old glamour model who won the previous season of Big Brother.

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