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'From Bs to Ds': Cross-marking fail at Ipswich school

David Yohan is not happy with Bundamba Secondary College.
David Yohan is not happy with Bundamba Secondary College. Rob Williams

AN IPSWICH high school's mistake may have cost a young, disadvantaged man the future he's been working towards.

The Bundamba State Secondary College student's marks suddenly dropped after his work was cross-marked, for the first time in two years.

Cross marking, when work is marked by more than one teacher, is used in schools to ensure the grade given by one teacher is an accurate reflection of that student's abilities.

For almost two years the senior student, who moved to Australia from Africa and hopes to become an engineer, received Bs for his English marks.

This year that grade suddenly dropped to a D.

All the English marks he received since starting at the school were also changed to a D after his work was cross-marked.

The school has declined to comment on whether other students have been affected or whether cross-marking is monitored.

The devastating blow was delivered without the young man's guardian - his uncle David Yohan - even receiving a phone call.

Now, Mr Yohan is desperate for answers on how the system could have let an ambitious student down so badly, and a solution that will allow his nephew to enter university.

 

Bundamba State Secondary College.
Bundamba State Secondary College. Contributed

"When he came home and told us what had happened, it was so unbelievable I thought he must have his facts wrong," Mr Yohan, who has chosen to speak on his nephew's behalf, said.

That was in July.

Since then Mr Yohan, who has a long list of awards attached to his name including Young Australia Citizen of the Year and Australian Human Rights Medal Finalist, has struggled to get answers on how this happened, how to fix it and whether others have had the same experience.

"I asked, (during a meeting) but the school said it wasn't something they thought worthy of notifying other parents," Mr Yohan said.

The Department of Education declined to confirm details to the QT on the situation but it appears the grades were dropped after the student's work was cross marked, for the first time in two years.

A spokesperson for the Department said it was committed to working with the student and his family to help him finish year 12.

>>Have you or your child been affected? Tell us, helen.spelitis@qt.com.au

Mr Yohan disputes that but importantly has a host of questions he says no one in the Department will answer.

Mr Yohan wants to know why the work wasn't cross marked earlier and why the school failed to teach his nephew in the first place.

He has been stonewalled.

The school refused to give Mr Yohan anything in writing until after he contacted the Ombudsman out of desperation.

Mr Yohan is the legal guardian for this student and three others.

He took on caring for the children who came to Australia, from Ethiopia, after their parents died in tragic circumstances.

 

"Are there other students at the school going through this? No one can give me any answers."

When the children arrived, they didn't speak or write any English and spent a year at a dedicated language school to catch up.

For the student, having his grades suddenly drop so low so close to the end of year 12, means he has no chance of successfully applying to study engineering at university.

In an email to Mr Yohan, the Education Department admitted the original grades "were not a true indication of (the student's) achievement level" in English.

The email goes on to explain the student had been exempt from certain classes for tutoring sessions.

The email says the student was offered the chance to re-submit a piece of written work to "raise his achievement levels".

These options were not discussed with Mr Yohan, despite direct instructions to include him in any discussions on the issue.

His nephew had already resit one piece of assessment and both the school and Department had clearly stated legally only one resit was allowed.

Mr Yohan said his nephew felt bullied by the school and had declined to use his time to resit another assessment for English, given he had already failed and little had changed since. He said he had chosen to focus on his other subjects.

"To corner this young man like this... there's no accountability from the school," Mr Yohan said.

"If this goes on, then no one improves. Will this happen to his siblings?

"Are there other students at the school going through this? No one can give me any answers."

Mr Yohan has almost given up the Education Department and has instead appealed to the community.

"Hopefully there is someone out there who has some understanding around this issue that may be able to help us," he said. "We don't know where to turn."

Can you help? Let us know. Email helen.spelitis@qt.com.au 

Topics:  bundamba state secondary college cross-marking


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