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disqualification from A level-help!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Corvuscorax, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Lead commenter

    My tutee was disqualified from both physics and chemistry A level because of something offensive she wrote on the papers. She has OCD, anorexia, hears voices. I was hoping she would get BB, maybe one grade higher or lower in either, so AA at best, CC at worst. I am seeing her parents shortly. Can anyone suggest any way forward? Is mental illness a reason to appeal? Any other suggestions? insights? information would be very gratefully received. I have never come across this before. The news that she had been disqualified arrived on results day, when we were expecting to get the grades. it was a total shock. Has anyone else ever heard of this?
  2. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Yes, I've heard of it.
    An appeal was fruitless.

    You could ask to see what she wrote.
    tall tales, agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  3. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    knitone and agathamorse like this.
  4. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    While I am happy to agree that the pupil's comments were not Islamophobic, she should have been aware that a GCSE RE exam is not an appropriate forum for a vegetarian to express personal views about halal meat production unless the paper invites such opinions.
  5. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Agreed. A low mark is possibly valid but not disqualification.
  6. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    Poor girl - she seems to have a lot to cope with.
    I would suggest she/you/the school asks to see the answer paper and find out what she wrote. If she simply wrote swear words all over the paper, that's a fail. But you indicate that she wrote something offensive in some way, and this would be hard to appeal against.
    You need extra information. Can she remember what she wrote? Does she have medical diagnoses which were sent to the exam boards in advance? or which could be sent now?
    But my hopes would not be very high, I must admit. Sorry for all concerned.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Maybe, but none of the media reports I've seen gives any clue what the question was.
  8. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    If her Awarding Body was Pearson, the Centre can see the script online - ask the exams officer.
    She/you/the exams officer needs to check the regulations of the Awarding Body and possibly JCQ as well, so you know where you stand with respect to the offence. Also need to check the exact appeals procedure.
    I have very limited experience here - the number of even possibly offensive or misused scripts is vanishingly small - but the very few I've seen have tended to be ignored. Some say things like, "our teacher didn't teach us this," or "I'm sorry for wasting your time marking this;" and all you can think there is that the candidate is wasting his or her time instead of scoring marks, so is self-penalising.
    agathamorse and Corvuscorax like this.
  9. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    It's in the JCQ "Information for candidates":
    8 You must not write inappropiate, obscene or offensive material.

    Maybe it should be clearer that this may result in disqualification - that is emphasised for the rule about having unauthorised material even if you don't use it.

    The exams officer at the school will be the person to deal with this - any appeal has to be made by the head of centre. Information at https://www.jcq.org.uk/exams-office/appeals
    It may be that her particular needs will mitigate against the decision.

    has a list of offences and sanctions. Most of the document is about malpractice which may jeopardise the integrity of the exams, so offensive material is a bit of an anomaly.
    It says that a warning is applicable for isolated mildly offensive words/drawings/etc.
    For frequent mild obscenities or isolated strong obscenity, or mildly offensive comments directed at the examiner or member of staff, they can lose all the marks for that section/component/unit.
    Disqualification happens for "offensive comments or obscenities aimed at a member of staff, examiner or religious group; homophobic, transphobic, racist or sexist remarks or lewd drawings."
    Corvuscorax and Piranha like this.
  10. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    OCD and anorexia are not going to cause someone to write something offensive on an exam paper.
    Hearing voices may do and so she should have had special conditions in the exam to ensure there wasn't an issue.
    Mental illness isn't a reason to appeal, but is a reason to have had support during the exam and should have been investigated at the time of entering.

    How did you find out the reason for the disqualification? Go back to them and ask about appealing.
    When you say she is your tutee, do you mean a private tuition situation? Or that she is in your for tutor group?
    Pomza and (deleted member) like this.
  11. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Thinking about it, I don't think there is a lot you can do as a tutor. The parents could try to find out more through the school, and the school might themselves try to appeal. But I doubt if anybody else could do anything, apart from listen sympathetically. If there reason for disqualification is dubious, I would expect the school to do something.
  12. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Lead commenter

    She is a family friend I have been tutoring since year 10. She missed quite a lot of school, mostly because of the OCD which can make it impossible for her to get out of the house in the mornings. I've been with the parents as they spoke to the exams officer this afternoon. The school's exams officer is going to ask to see the papers, then tell her parents if she thinks there are any possible options. The girl herself is denying all knowledge of anything offensive on her paper, but she is a very accomplished liar, so that doesn't mean anything.
  13. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Lead commenter

    Thank you all for your contribution
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Why on earth didn't they have this discussion last Thursday? Surely the moment the school and parents knew of the disqualification they were in touch to work out why and decide what to do? And the parents are VERY lucky the exams officer was working today...

    In the link @CarrieV gives above the pupil was told by the exam board before the results are out. I'd have expected something similar for an A-Level disqualification.
    nomad likes this.
  15. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    OCD takes many strange forms. A relaitve of mine has a debilitating version. The manifestation of it has changed over the years but 'blasphemous thoughts' have been a constant and there was a time that, when a trigger occured (hearing or seeing anything which in the mind was related to a particular issue), had to mutter obscenities - muttered under the breath, but muttered nonetheless, not just said internally. I can imagine that translating to writing things down.

    So, (and without knowing exactly what was written) while my initial thougts on this were not sympathetic, if the OCD is extreme enough to have led to a high number of absences, I can believe that it might have caused this, whatever it was.
    annascience2012 likes this.
  16. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Lead commenter

    they did have a discussion last Thursday, and made an appointment to speak today, by which time the exam's officer was hoping to know more
  17. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Lead commenter

    I don't know why the news only came with the results. Possibly that was when the exam board contacted the school. Possibly they contacted the school earlier, but no one was in the exams office to pick up the message until A level results day. I did wonder. I don't know
  18. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    It is interesting that we tend to think mental illness has lost its stigma. Yet some people think it's fine to mock people with autism/age related disabilities/mental health issues, despite the fact they would not discrimnate on the asis of skin colour, for example. Also remember the boy with autism (Gary something, I think, would have to google) who was supposed to be sent to America for trial. I don't know this pupil, or much about this case at all, but I do worry that we don't actually cater for SEND/celebrate and genuinely cater for 'differences' as we are supposed to.
    HolyMahogany likes this.
  19. Laphroig

    Laphroig Lead commenter

    Re the GCSE RE exam disqualification: is it usual to inform schools and candidates of disqualification before official results day?
    nomad likes this.
  20. matevans

    matevans New commenter

    Of course if she doesn't answer the specific question and goes off on a tangent, then she should get marked appropriately for that question. But that should be the absolute end of it. It is pitiful in a liberal democracy that we have such newspeak that someone can decide a student criticising something she doesn't like as worthy of barring her from an exam. When I mark politics answers should I start to bar students because they've critically analysed certain ideologies or beliefs causing potential offence to their supporters....
    agathamorse likes this.

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