A week before her first A level, arrangements for sitting the exam
were changed by the school. Just a minor change. The start time was
moved forward half an hour along side a reminder that all candidates
must be seated 15 minutes before the exam was due to start. Late
comers would not be allowed in. During the course of the next few days
the start time was changed back, moved forward and then back again. To
complicate matters even further on one notification email the venue
was changed. The delayed start time not giving sufficient time in
between am and pm exams.
On the day the exam took place at the original time and place.
Nether the less my daughter felt that these last minute changes caused
unnecessary stress at an already stressful time. Many of her fellow
students felt the same anxiety about turning up at the wrong time or
venue and therefore not being able to sit the exam they had studied so
hard and long for.
After the exams she emailed the head teacher and the chair of the
governors expressing her concern and asking why this had happened. She
was told that arrangement had been changed to fall in line with other
schools/exam centres as the exam board guidance stipulated that exams
start at the same time to avoid the risk of cheating. So her school
was just falling in-line with other schools.But this didn’t really
explain why the times changed and changed back again causing confusion
and anxiety. So she emailed the exam board who responded that it was a
local matter. She raised her concerns with her local MP and asked if
he could find out why so many unsettling last minute changes were
made. He sympathised and hoped it had not effected her performance.
Frustrated she wrote to her local news paper. They printed the letter.
The following week the letters page was dominated by replies not just
from parents ,students and teachers from her school but schools across
the region. The paper carried an editorial asking for answers. The
Sunday’s picked up on the issue. MP,s were falling over themselves to
ask a question in the House.
The Education minister was forced to make a statement. However the
statement was so unconvincing, so illogical it didn’t make sense and
the minister was roundly ridiculed. He immediately went back to his
department and shouted at his civil servants for drafting him such a
poor statement and making him look foolish in front of MPs.
It was his PA who reminded him that following a ,”discussion” with
his wife about his lack of involve in family life and apparently
disinterest in his own children’s education he had made a commitment
to take his daughter to school on the morning of her first A Level
exam. The minister had instructed the PA to make sure his diary made
Unfortunately the PM at short notice called a meeting of key cabinet
members on the same morning. The PA couldn’t change the time of the
PM’s meeting in order that the minister could take his daughter to sit
her example so she informed the departments civil servants that the
minister required the start time of the exam to change to fit in with
the ministers diary commitments. The civil servants knew better than
to question an instruction. Unfortunately, as was the PM habits ,
over the next few days the start time of the meeting of cabinet
colleagues changed several times. No one of course questioned why
Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger