A GROUP of students have been disqualified from an English exam after teachers wrongly told them they could take in the book they had been studying.
Year 11 pupils from Kenton School in Newcastle, who took their English language and literature AS-level exam a year early, were told they could take a copy of Eden Close by American writer Anita Shreve.
But it was actually a closed-book exam, and on Monday the pupils were given the devastating news that they had all been disqualified.
Headteacher David Pearmain said the school was “mortified” by the mistake but reassured students they would be able to take the exam again in January.
Mr Permain said: “It was a bad mistake and I have personally apologised to the students affected by it and also to their parents. The school, very unusually, made a mistake and it is a terrible mistake on exam entries.
“But one thing to understand – and I will keep apologising to school pupils and parents – as it happens it will not disadvantage any of those students in their future. That is a bit of good news.”
The pupils, who were taking the AQA examination board Unit 2 English language had taken GCSE English at the end of Year 10, ahead of their peers as they excelled in the subject.
During this summer’s examination period, those top-set pupils were given the chance to take their AS-level English language and literature exam early.
They completed Unit 1 of the exam this summer and will be able to keep those results.
In a letter sent out to parents, Mr Pearmain said: “I am very sorry to report that a serious mistake was made by the English department and the students were led to believe they were allowed to take their texts into the exam.
“This was not the case and as a result AQA (the examining board) took the decision to disqualify all candidates who were entered for Unit 2.
“This means the students will be awarded a grade for their Unit 1 examination, which is unaffected by this, but their Unit 2 result will be cancelled. This will not be recorded as a ‘fail’ but will be classed as a ‘non-entry’ and will mean the students have completed 50% of this AS course.”
He also told parents that students who sat the exam and return to the school in September will be given the opportunity to complete the course in January with the help of extra lessons.
The school has now launched an investigation into how the mistake happened.
Parents, who are being invited to meetings at the school to discuss the issue, reacted with shock and anger when they found out.
A spokesman for AQA said: “The guidance we provide to schools and colleges is very clear, so issues like this are quite rare.
“However, if situations like this arise we need to be fair to all students taking our exams.
“We therefore, unfortunately, have no option but to take this action, but we do so knowing that they have further opportunities to sit this unit.”
It was a bad mistake and I have personally apologised to the students affected by it