Oxford for teenager given wrong marks
8:57am Thursday 13th September 2012 in News
A BRIGHT teenager nearly missed out on a place at one of the world’s leading universities after his A-level English literature exam was wrongly marked.
David McFarlane was left devastated when he was told he had two As and a B — which was not enough to secure him a place at Oxford.
Despite the good grades, teachers at Thornleigh Salesian College were sure there had been a mistake and demanded a re-mark by exam board AQA.
When the new result came back, David’s score almost doubled, going up from 38 to 69, transforming his grade from a B to an A*.
AQA have since apologised and said lessons will be learned.
The 18-year-old will now study music at St Hugh’s College next September.
Luckily David had already planned to take a gap year to work and to go travelling.
Ironically, the teenager is currently rehearsing for The History Boys with the Summerseat Players, based in Ramsbottom, which is about a group of boys trying to get into Oxford.
He said: “I was gutted because I had worked hard for my exams and I knew something was not right.
“I can’t thank the school enough for all the support they have given me.”
His English teacher, Rita Harmer, described David as one of the most talented writers she has ever taught.
Thornleigh headteacher Alison Burrowes said that having taught students for seven years, teachers are confident their internal data on students is secure and accurate.
She said the school acted swiftly and staff worked through the holiday liaising with David, the exam board and universities.
She said: “We were all delighted when the final result came through. However, we have to ask the question — how did this happen in the first place? The disappointment and trauma on results day overshadowed David’s other achievements of an A in music and an A in physics.”
An AQA spokesman said: “We have quality control procedures in place to ensure that our examiners are marking to the right standard.
“Unfortunately, there are rare occasions when this does not happen. We are sorry that we didn’t get it right first time for this student and will ensure that lessons are learned.”
l In a separate development, it has been estimated that thousands of teenagers received lower than expected grades this year after GCSE English grade boundaries were moved between January and June.
Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews has ordered Welsh exams to be regraded following a review, but England's exams regulator, Ofqual, says it would be inappropriate for exams to be regraded.