AN EXAM board was described as being bottom of the class after mistakes in marking A-level papers sat last summer may have cost a Tomlinscote School student a place at her chosen university.

Edexcel did boost the student's Spanish grade, but it came too late as St Andrew's University had already refused to accept her.

Anna Clark took up her second choice offer of Birmingham University but is now set to transfer to Southampton as she has not settled in the Midlands.

Danny Brown, head of modern languages at Tomlinscote, believes Anna should be awarded financial compensation from the exam board for causing her misery.

Mrs Brown has also spent nine months fighting for another pupil's German grade to be increased, claiming Edexcel lost a recording of an exam module.

Mark McMillan kept his place at St John's College Oxford, but Mrs Brown and headteacher Tony Ryles fired off numerous letters in an attempt to see justice done.

Mrs Brown said she had been "astounded" when the results came out to see lower grades for both pupils.

Appeals were launched and the exam board confirmed Anna should have received an A grade in Spanish on September 13.

This was too late, said Mrs Brown, as university places were confirmed by August 15 "and she had already lost her place at St Andrew's".

Anna's grades were shown as B,B,C, too low for the university. Mrs Brown believes that if they had shown the true marks of A,B,C, St Andrew's would have allowed her to start.

"With Anna, she was two points down overall with the A grade, but I have no doubt that if she had the A in Spanish at the time of seeing the results they would have looked at her in a more benign way."

After accepting an offer from Birmingham University, Anna failed to settle and is now set to transfer to Southampton to study politics with international relations.

"It's not really what I want to do, because I want to do Spanish," said Anna.

She added there was a chance of studying the language on the new course, but it would have to be as an extra component.

In Mark McMillan's case, Mrs Brown said the school had fired off angry letters for nine months and the exam board constantly missed deadlines which they set.

She said there had been two of Mark's German modules about which the school had appealed.

His A grade was confirmed on February 6, despite promises from the exam board that its appeals procedure would take no more than 40 days.

Edexcel said in a letter to the school that it was unable to find any trace of the recording during the appeals procedure, said Mrs Brown.

"Every single thing that we have challenged, it's been wrong, and it shows us that we were right and they were wrong.

"But what worries me is all those people who took A-level Spanish and German who did not challenge their grade."

Mrs Brown said Tomlinscote was unable to afford appeals for everyone who took modern languages, and added that many pupils were afraid to challenge their grade in case it was lowered by the exam board.

She said she was already worried about the exam results this year following the phasing out of the traditional A-levels.

"I feel desperate because I think that they will be less efficient in the A2 exams because it's the first time through for them," she said.

A spokeswoman for Edexcel said: "We cannot comment on Anna Clark's case.

"However, I understand that with Mark McMillan his work was re-examined by a chief examiner who did give him additional marks that raised his grade.

"Changes in grade are rare. For a very small percentage — less than two per cent of the overall entry — there is a formal inquiry about results, a monitored and reported process. A very small percentage of these had their grades changed.

"Edexcel works with 15,000 professional examiners and is confident that their work reaches the right standard. There are considerable checks and balances in place to ensure this.

"Where there is a failure by an examiner leading to grade changes, we do check their other work to ensure that all the work done is to the right standard.

"Examiners are themselves examined and they may not be used as examiners in the future."

Mark McMillan and Anna Clark are pictured with Tomlinscote's head of modern languages Danny Brown (left) and examinations officer Barbara Collier.