Cambridge head hits out over exam remark delay “anguish”

Cambridge House student Aaron Henry with school principal Mrs Elma Lutton.
Cambridge House student Aaron Henry with school principal Mrs Elma Lutton.

The principal of Cambridge House Grammar has spoken out about a star student’s agonising wait for an exam remark, describing it as “inexcusable”.

Elma Lutton said that while A level student Aaron Henry - the highest achieving student ever to have studied at the Ballymena grammar school - should have been celebrating he faced an agonising wait for more than a week as his biology A level paper was returned for remarking.

Mrs Lutton was on hand to congratulate Aaron on achieving four A* grades in physics, chemistry, maths and further maths but was sorely disappointed that his A grade in biology had to be questioned. Her disappointment has now turned to frustration as she says the exam body should be challenged for not ensuring he was granted the correct grade initially.

Mrs Lutton said: “On results day our head boy Aaron should have been celebrating achieving five A* grades but instead there was a shadow cast over his celebrating as he awaited confirmation of his grade for biology. He really has been a star pupil for the past seven years and it saddens me that the joy of celebrating his achievements were tainted on results day, a day that cannot be recreated for him.

“Upgrading the mark from an A to A* calls into question what is at the very core of the marking process by AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance),” she said.

“The anguish Aaron faced at a time when he should have been celebrating the effort he put into his studies is inexcusable. I will be meeting with the exam body to call for a stringent investigation into how such an error in marking can occur, creating the difference between Aaron being a high achiever to being the highest achiever in the country,” said Mrs Lutton.

Aaron who, it is understood is one of only two Northern Ireland A level students of 2015 to achieve five A* grades, will be going on to take a place in Oxford University to study Medicine.

Aaron said: “I am thrilled that I achieved five A* grades and that all my studying paid off to achieve the highest possible grades following my GCSE success. I celebrated the results with my family and friends but it would have been so much better to be celebrating five A* grades at the same time rather than having to wait patiently for news of achieving that final A*.

“I have to be honest too and say that when I saw another student named as the top achieving student in Northern Ireland I knew that I should be celebrating that achievement with him.”

An AQA spokesperson said: “We’re always happy to take another look when anyone feels they didn’t get the result they deserved – and, in this case, Aaron was awarded 1 more mark that put him over the threshold for an A*.

“We’d like to congratulate him on an excellent set of results.”