St Albans students 'let down' by A-level alternative

PUBLISHED: 13:38 06 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:19 06 May 2010

A FURIOUS parent from St Albans has blamed disastrous International Baccalaureate (IB) results for her son s failure to secure a university place. Yvonne Robertson, whose 19-year-old son Joe was one of the first in the city to take the A-level alternat

A FURIOUS parent from St Albans has blamed "disastrous" International Baccalaureate (IB) results for her son's failure to secure a university place.

Yvonne Robertson, whose 19-year-old son Joe was one of the first in the city to take the A-level alternative, said her family's summer has been ruined by her son's IB results, which weren't high enough to secure his conditional offer at Edinburgh University.

Around 30 pupils from schools across the St Albans Consortium BeauSandVer -comprising Beaumont, Sandringham and Verulam secondary schools - received their IB Diploma results earlier this month and, according to Mrs Robertson, only one third of the students did as well as or better than their predicted grades.

Mrs Robertson said that of the seven pupils who took IB at Verulam School, where her son went, none managed to achieve their predicted grades, with only one securing enough IB points to get into university and two failing altogether.

She added: "This whole project has been a massive failure for those pupils who placed their faith in their schools. And what makes it even worse is the fact that the BeauSandVer head teachers are falsely claiming that it's been a huge success."

Head teacher at Verulam Paul Ramsey told The Herts Advertiser earlier this month just after the results came out that, "two years of hard work by students and staff has definitely paid off" and Alan Gray, head at Sandringham, said that choosing to offer the IB to students was "a leap of faith which thankfully paid off."

But Mrs Robertson said that she could identify numerous key areas where the consortium underperformed, including inaccurate teacher grade predictions and sporadic changes of staff in some subjects which led to inconsistent teaching.

She maintained that Mr Ramsey had admitted to her that there were 'gaps in the coverage of the syllabuses' for both her son's physics and maths IB courses.

She also claimed that there had been massive problems with coursework marking, which in some cases was downgraded by over 50 per cent from their original grades by IB moderators.

Mrs Robertson has been striving to expose what she described as the consortium's, "big cover up" but said she has been disappointed by the "frankly unhelpful" response she and other concerned parents had received.

She added: "Aside from Mr Ramsey who has at least been sympathetic towards my son's cause, nobody seems to want to listen."

Mrs Robertson's son, who did not wish to be named, missed out on his university place to study Economics and Management by 2 IB points and, if he doesn't get a place through clearance, Mrs Robertson said he would have to take a gap year.

She added: "Our whole family is so disappointed and we feel let down by the consortium - they promised us that there was no element of risk attached to taking the IB instead of A-levels. My advice to next year's students would be don't go anywhere near IB or else you'll be let down too."

No-one was available at the three schools and a spokesperson from Herts County Council said that they couldn't speak on behalf of the consortium: "It's up to individual schools if they wish to put pupils forward for the International Baccalaureate. We can't instruct schools to adopt a particular curriculum or qualification, so long as they operate within the national framework."

She added: "Despite sympathising with pupils who don't get the results they hoped for, we can't intervene in the process through which students gain entry to universities or colleges.


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