Students wait on A-level crisis

SUFFOLK students are today waiting to hear if their exam results are among those to be re-graded - as ordered by an independent inquiry.As the A-level saga lurches from crisis to crisis, inquiry head Mike Tomlinson said there was no political interference in the exam process by Education Secretary Estelle Morris.

SUFFOLK students are today waiting to hear if their exam results are among those to be re-graded - as ordered by an independent inquiry.

As the A-level saga lurches from crisis to crisis, inquiry head Mike Tomlinson said there was no political interference in the exam process by Education Secretary Estelle Morris.

And he said that the actions of Sir William Stubbs, chairman of the exams watchdog the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, were based on the "wholly proper and necessary concerns of the regulator".

But minutes later Sir William Stubbs was sacked by Education Secretary Estelle Morris.


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Mr Tomlinson concluded that some of the actions by the exam boards during grading exercises arose from pressure that they perceived they were under from the QCA.

Mr Tomlinson said the exercise will lead to affected students, in about 12 subjects, having higher grades but no one will have grades cut.

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He told reporters: "I am satisfied that some students have been inaccurately graded."

He described the resulting furore when some students expecting top grades found themselves failing some sections as "an accident waiting to happen".

Mr Tomlinson was asked to conduct an inquiry by Ms Morris after a row erupted over claims that A-Level students had been graded down to avoid allegations that standards were falling.

He said: "The marking process is quite separate and my inquiry has not considered this. Indeed, other than the normal requests for re-marking there has been very little concern expressed about marking.

"My concern has been to resolve the anxiety and concern many students, parents and teachers have expressed. Whatever the proportion of students thought to be affected, they deserve to be awarded a grade commensurate with the standards of their work relative to the overall standard for GCE A-Level.

"I am satisfied, based on the evidence available, that the actions of the boards during the grading exercise arose from the pressure they perceived that they were under from the QCA both to maintain the standard and achieve an outcome which was more or less in line with the results in 2001.

"I am recommending the boards be asked to provide me with additional data, I will then decide not only which units are to be regraded but also the manner and extent of regrading.

"This will be done by end of Tuesday, 1 October. I anticipate the board or boards involved can then proceed very quickly, hopefully by the end of next week."

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