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Education Law Case Study: Negligent teaching leading to reduced A-level grade

Education Law Case Study: Negligent teaching leading to reduced A-level grade

Who did we act for?

We acted for Maysun who, through poor teaching, was accused of plagiarism in her coursework and received a lower A-Level grade than she had been predicted.

What was the case about?

Maysun attended an independent school.  Maysun was keen to study an A-Level which had not previously been available at the school but, having been reassured that her chosen A-level course would be taught, Maysun progressed to the school’s sixth form.

Unfortunately, part way through the course, it became apparent that Maysun and the rest of her cohort were not being taught the correct syllabus and had, thereby, missed out on approximately one third of the course teaching.  Maysun’s family complained to the school and ultimately the teacher was replaced but this was only shortly before the students submitted their final coursework. There was insufficient time for them to be taught the remainder of the syllabus.

Unbeknown to her at the time she submitted her final coursework, Maysun and her cohort had also not been taught how to reference sources correctly.

On A-level results day, Maysun was disappointed to receive a Grade D rather than the Grade B, which she had been predicted.  It transpired that, in addition to the disappointment about the grade, upon moderation by the Exam Board, concerns had been raised in relation to how Maysun had referenced sources.  To her horror, an allegation was made that she had committed an act of plagiarism.

Aware that there had been issues with the quality of teaching, Maysun’s family sought to address the discrepancy between the grade attained and the predicted grade with the school.  The school responded to confirm they had appealed the grading and the plagiarism allegation, citing the last minute change of teacher as mitigation.  The school did not involve Maysun or her family in the appeal process.

The Exam Board agreed the plagiarism had been caused by the teaching Maysun had received rather than through Maysun’s attempt to gain unfair advantage through cheating. Nevertheless, they felt obliged to give Maysun a time limited warning about the perceived plagiarism.

What did we do?

By the time we were instructed it was too late to do anything about the Exam Board’s decision to sanction Maysun with a warning.  This will remain on her record for a period of two years.

We advised Maysun to instigate the complaints procedure against the school and argue the school had acted in breach of its contract with Maysun’s parents to provide education services with reasonable care and skill and had breached its duty of care to Maysun.  We advised Maysun and her family to seek compensation.

What was the outcome?

Maysun and her family received significant financial recompense.  More importantly, the school provided Maysun with a reference which explained the circumstances that had led to both her reduced grade and the misapplied plagiarism allegation. Maysun will be able to present this reference to future employers should the need arise.

Maysun received a satisfactory outcome which will support her into the future.