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Shropshire students' A-level disappointment leads to calls for nationwide appeal

By Sue Austin | Newport | Education | Published:

Shropshire teenager Samantha Smith, who says she has battled all the odds to get through her A-level year, says the exams postcode lottery saw her grades nosedive leaving her without a university offer.

Samantha Smith says a postcode lottery has ruined her A-level results

The 18-year old, a student at Newport Girls’ High School got a B,C and D in her mocks and had been expected to improve those to A grades.

Instead she opened her results to find a B, E and a U.

"It is absolutely unfathomable," she said.

"How can they mark me two grades down from my mocks. It seems that the system of using postcodes has gone against me and shown, as I feared, that pupils from low-income backgrounds, such as those who have experienced homelessness or poverty, are already at a disproportionate disadvantage when it comes to academic achievement and future prospects."

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Samantha was left homeless at the age of 16 and had to sofa surf through her A-level studies. When she was given her own accommodation it meant getting up at 6am, often after finishing her evening jobs at 2am to take two buses to school.

“Even though I had three jobs sometimes the only food I had all day was my free school meal,” she said.

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"I am definitely going to appeal but until I know the results of that appeal I will be in the most awful limbo and having to deal with it without the parental help that most other students have."

Another disappointed student from Newport is Ellie Hanson, 18, who says all four of her A-Levels were downgraded from leaving her with grades that were worse than even her lowest expectations."

Hoping for top grades, she was given three Bs and a C.

"The C is in Maths which is particularly upsetting as I got a B in my mock - I essentially got downgraded two grades from that input by my teacher.

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"I was rejected from my firm university offer and I'm now wondering if its even worth trying to retake three exams because I haven't had any formal teaching since March. My only real hope is for a nationwide appeal - as has happened in Scotland."

A statement from Newport Girls' High School said: "We are delighted that the majority of students have secured places at their first or second choice of university including two Oxbridge students and a pleasing number with places at other top universities.

"We congratulate them and wish them well as they move onto the next stage in their education. Unfortunately, as a result of calculated grades, some students’ hard work has not been rewarded in the way that we would have hoped and we are deeply disappointed with this outcome.

"Nonetheless we recognise the time and effort that all our Year 13s had dedicated to their studies in 2018-2020 and the grades we know that they should have achieved as well as their many contributions to the wider life of the school."

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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