Shift in GCSE goalposts cost me my dream job
A TEENAGER fears he's been the victim of a national shake-up in GCSE marking after losing his place on a three-year dockyard apprenticeship.
Kyle Stephens, 16, from Higher Compton, had been provisionally accepted by Babcock Marine for one of just 13 three-year apprenticeships to train as a fabricator.
One of hundreds of initial applicants, he passed interviews, a team-building process, achieved security clearance and gained six GCSE equivalents.
He was even sent a letter of provisional acceptance.
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After he says he was told by his school earlier this year he was set to achieve the C grade in English, he focused on his other subjects to make sure he passed those too.
When his results came through he found he had a D in English – not the C required by Babcock to take up his place on apprenticeship. Babcock then rejected him.
He and his mum and dad believe he has been caught up in the national row over GCSE English results where schools have seen thousands of final grades unexpectedly drop from C to D.
Headteachers are claiming exam boards raised grade boundaries in English half way through the year amid fears that too many children were going to get a C. They believe results in English differ depending on students sitting the exam in January or June and some have called for regradings.
Heads in Plymouth also expressed concern, while a group of schools in south Devon, including Ivybridge Community College and Tavistock College, have called for a Government review.
Kyle told the Herald: "I'm really fed up and disappointed; this is a major setback for me.
"It has put me back to square one where everyone else is – looking for a job.
"I could easily have got a C by doing better coursework if I had known this was going to happen.
"I can re-take the exam and get my grade back up but it is too late – I have lost the job.
"Lots of my friends' grades also went down to a D, but none of them had a job waiting."
Kyle said teachers at his school, Eggbuckland Community College, assured him in January he was on course for a C for his English, so he stopped working towards it and concentrated on other subjects such as Maths.
Other students, like his friend Oliver Davey, were given extra English tuition having been told they would not get a C; Oliver then achieved a B.
Kyle's mother Fran said: "Even if the decision on marking is overturned it will be too late for Kyle.
"He has lost the job he was so looking forward to despite having passes in 6 GCSEs or equivalent.
"If only he had failed the exam in January as some of his friends did. They went on to receive extra help, completed some more coursework and now have the grades they needed.
"Kyle's teacher even rang the Dockyard to explain and asked if they would be prepared to let her complete one evening of work with Kyle to bring the grade up to the 'new' C.
"But their deadline for results was Tuesday and in typical rigid fashion they have refused, despite the unfairness of the situation.
"I don't understand why the Government wants a low-achieving society.
"What is wrong with youngsters achieving good results and aspiring to higher education or gainful employment?"
Kyle's father Ian, a self-employed plasterer, said: "They moved the goalposts at half-time.
"Kyle has taken this pretty badly; it has knocked the stuffing out of him."
A Babcock spokeswoman said: "Babcock received over 500 applications for 60 apprenticeship vacancies at Devonport Royal Dockyard for the September 2012 intake.
"The company follows a stringent selection process for places on its apprenticeship programme.
"Given the short period of time between the issue of GCSE exam results and the start date, it has always been company procedure to provisionally offer places to candidates who are predicted to achieve the required qualifications prior to the start date.
"We hold a reserve list of suitable candidates to back fill places where the required level of qualifications is not achieved. "We would expect a number of candidates to fall into this category."
Nobody from Eggbuckland Community College was available for comment.