Parents ‘to sue’ Havant College over poor grades

NOT HAPPY From left, Emma Youngs, Charlotte Quick and Freya Macintyre.  Picture: Paul Jacobs (113294-5)
NOT HAPPY From left, Emma Youngs, Charlotte Quick and Freya Macintyre. Picture: Paul Jacobs (113294-5)
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PARENTS are considering suing a college after their children received poor exam grades.

Havant College students say inadequate teaching, coursework set at the last minute and a lack of knowledge about the new qualification – called the International Baccalaureate (IB) – has led them to miss out on first-choice university places.

Despite selecting the cream of GCSE students to sit the IB – which includes six academic subjects and an extended essay – just 15 out of 24 students passed the course this year.

And of the 16 who applied to university, only three met their conditional offers.

Nicola Quick is the mum of Charlotte, 18, whose dreams of reading medicine at St George’s in London were shattered when she got four points below her conditional offer.

She will need to resit her exams so she can go to university – but she will have to fork out £9,000 in tuition fees which come into force next year.

Mrs Quick said: ‘The college has failed its best students. Havant specifically targeted A and A* pupils at GCSEs but the course was a shambles.

‘Some of us are considering taking legal action. Medicine is a five-year course and my daughter’s tuition fees have risen to £9,000 a year as she will be starting in 2012, on top of losing a year’s salary.’

Daughter Charlotte added: ‘If I had taken A-levels I wouldn’t be in this situation. The alarm bells started ringing in the first year and I made several complaints but not enough was done. I feel robbed.’

Emma Youngs, 18, missed out on two offers from Bath and UCL to read natural sciences. She was predicted 41 points but got 29 and found a place through clearing at Greenwich to read biomedical sciences.

She said: ‘All the work we put in came to nothing because it was so disorganised.

‘We were doing science coursework just three weeks before our exams, and we only had two weeks to revise.’

Her mum Daphne added: ‘Chemistry was a disaster from day one. The pupils repeatedly complained of the inadequate teaching, but it took a whole year before the teacher left. The college should have done its homework.’

Freya Macintyre, 18, is facing four resits after failing her IB and being rejected from Exeter University to read zoology.

She said: ‘There was a complete lack of organisation and the teachers were marking our papers as if they were A-levels, which is why the predictions were so wrong. I was told one of my papers was a B standard and I got an E. I’m absolutely devastated. I worked so hard and I started revising months in advance but it was all for nothing.’

Havant College, which takes in students from all over the Havant and Portsmouth area, has now dropped the IB just two years after introducing it. This year’s second year cohort will be the last.

Principal John McDougall defended the teaching of the IB saying it was good. He said the reason for dropping it was to do with universities giving IB students much tougher offers than their A-level counterparts.

He added: ‘The IB was taught by the very same teachers as teach A-levels for which we recorded outstanding results this year. There is a big issue with university offers, resulting in many students not getting into their first choice, but 14 out of 16 did get into university this year, which at 87 per cent is an even better progression rate than our A-level student rate of 83 per cent. This is clearly not due to poor teaching.’

Mr McDougall added that grade predictions were made nine months before the results were known, adding: ‘The IB is a very tough course, particularly in the sciences and maths and some of this cohort of students were not able to achieve this academic maturation in the second year.’

Students say they were ‘let down’ by college

OTHER students have told of the problems taking the qualification.

Jemma Parsons was predicted 37 points but got 29 and missed out on a place to read history at Sheffield.

The 18-year-old, who secured a place at Cardiff, said: ‘We’ve been through hell. The obvious problem was the majority of teachers’ lack of information and the appalling level of support since getting our results.’

Catherine Cartner, 18, who missed her 41-point offer from Cambridge by nine points, was delighted to have won a place to read languages at Bristol. She said: ‘The IB is great but Havant let us down.

‘Most of the coursework and our extended essay was left to the second year. The chemistry coursework done in the first year had to be repeated due to teacher changes, loss of work and misunderstood guidelines. Almost every student suffered a gap in predicted and achieved results.’