Incompetent boards

October 31, 2003

If the government introduces baccalaureate-style diplomas, let's hope it investigates A-level boards ("Bac may force change to degrees", THES , October 24). Universities have to deal not only with the boards'

proven incompetence but also with the probability that many unchallenged results are incorrect.

In 1999, my eldest daughter asked for her English paper to be re-marked. But the AQA board had lost it and so she had to accept the initial result. My second child, after a car accident the night before her religious studies A level, mistakenly turned up in the afternoon for the morning examination. Though assured the accident would be taken into account, the outcome was a mark of 0. When my third child sat A levels, a mark of 0 listed against an English literature paper alerted us to the probability of error, leading to a regrade to A (by which time his first-choice university had rejected him). But he got no explanation or apology.

A-level boards accept no responsibility for their errors, suffer no consequences and feel no need to apologise. How can we have confidence that the criteria we use for university admissions allow us to admit the right candidates?

Janette Dillon
Professor of drama
University of Nottingham

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