Exam board's attack on pupil

AN EXAM board has launched a stinging attack against a teenager who highlighted an exam bungle at his school.Exam board OCR (Oxford and Cambridge Schools and Royal Society of Arts) has branded Sam Scott as selfish and accused him of possibly leaking the information on the wrong paper to other students due to sit it later that week, before asking him to prove that he did not.

AN EXAM board has launched a stinging attack against a teenager who highlighted an exam bungle at his school.

Exam board OCR (Oxford and Cambridge Schools and Royal Society of Arts) has branded Sam Scott as selfish and accused him of possibly leaking the information on the wrong paper to other students due to sit it later that week, before asking him to prove that he did not.

The teenager highlighted the mistake to The Evening Star earlier this month after he and other students at Claydon High School were given the wrong business studies exam. It was 45 minutes before the blunder was noticed.

But after the 16-year-old appeared in the Star, the exam board levelled a stinging attack against Sam and his mother, Tracey in a letter to headteacher Beth Soule.


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All pupils had been made to sign a confidentiality agreement that they would not tell anyone, even their parents, about the mix up, sparking fury from Sam's mother Tracey.

Although the school claimed the agreement meant that the pupils should not reveal the contents of the paper, OCR has today said that it was open to interpretation.

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The letter claimed Sam's actions had threatened the integrity of the exam paper and left other students open to pressure to reveal its content.

Marked 'confidential' and written by Stephen Hunt, OCR quality and standards manager, reads: “OCR is very disappointed that neither Sam Scott nor his mother felt themselves bound by the declaration of confidentiality that Sam had signed and took it upon themselves to inform the press.

“As a result, OCR does not have any confidence that Sam did not go a step further and inform his friends of the content of the exam paper.

“By their selfish behaviour (and it is selfish only to think of their own position) Sam and his mother have exposed all the other candidates to a level of risk greater than that caused by the original incident.”

Mr Hunt, who was unwilling to discuss the letter with the Star, went on to urge the school to interview Sam and “prove” he had not revealed the content of the paper.

Today, Sam's mother Tracy blasted OCR, claiming the board was trying to fetter her son's freedom of speech.

She said: “I was fuming when I received the letter, I could barely speak I was so angry.

“The whole thing is very derogatory, the tone and the attitude really upset me.

“In her quote in the original story, the head said there was no security risk. Everybody knew about the mistake before Sam's story was in the Star.

“He is entitled to say what he likes, he has freedom of speech. He has not done anything wrong here.”

Mrs Scott also criticised OCR for “making” students sign the confidentiality agreement in the first place.

She said: “I can accept human error, but what concerns me is making a 16-year-old sign an agreement which they are not of the age to do.

“We would have liked to have been asked. Why were the children not sent home with a letter?

“They could have notified us, they drew the agreement up quick enough.

“They asked children to not even tell their parents what happened, but we tell our children not to keep secrets.”

Mrs Scott said she feared the row could have implications for Sam, who is set to receive his results in August before starting a course at Otley College.

Were your children involved? Were you concerned about the confidentiality agreement? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

OCR's response:

A SPOKESWOMAN for OCR today defended Mr Hunt's letter.

She said: "By saying the incident had happened, Sam exposed the other candidates to pressure from those who were about to sit the exam.

"It's not just Sam's school either. It could have been leaked on a national scale.

"He can't prove he did not reveal the content of the exam paper. By breaking his confidence it undermines his authority.

"It's about thinking about the bigger picture. These situations do happen."

The spokeswoman said had Sam refused to sign the agreement, a decision on what action OCR would have taken would have been made by a committee.

She said the confidentiality agreement had been made between pupils and OCR, adding that the wording of the agreement was "open to interpretation".

Beth Soule, Claydon headteacher, said the school accepted full responsibility for the error in handing out the wrong exam paper but could not comment on the row between Sam and Mrs Scott and OCR.

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