back to article Entire class fails IT exam by submitting in Word format

The 29 students of a computing class at a school in Lincolnshire have all failed to gain their diploma because their teacher told them to save their coursework in Microsoft Word format, which is not accepted by the exam board. Edexcel rejected work from pupils at Cotelands School in Ruskington who were studying for the Diploma …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Didn't accept MS Word?!

    Assuming it wasn't a movie or something similarly un-word-doc suitable, how could they not support MS Word?

    Even if you don't like MS, you've gotta concede that a majority of companies use it- and will continue to use it for the foreseeable future.

    Cue the Apple fans saying they'd not have had the problem if it wasn't for Bill Gates personally failing them...

  2. spegru


    While I'm all for open standards and have alot of sympathy for .doc not being acceptable - it does seem *very* harsh to fail these kids GCSEs because of it - unless it was a basic requirement of the submission of course.......

    Then again the teaching standard of so called IT Lessons in UK schools is undoubtedly CR*P and doesn't seem to cover document/file standards/formats at all!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    tough question these days

    "submit your work in a non-micro-crap propriety format, taking into account recent political and commercial activities in relation to ISO certification".

    Right choice though, fail them all cos their teacher is not up to the job... teach these kids they cannot rely on anyone but themselves!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Diploma in Digital Application

    You stick your right digit in

    You stick your left digit out

    You shake it all about...

  5. dervheid

    Surely the school

    should be putting this right, without the need for any extra 'effort' from the pupils.

    Along with sacking the fuckwit who clearly didn't read / comprehend the requirements for the coursework.

    Unless of course the requirements were never made clear, in which case that's sack the fuckwit at that end.

  6. It wasnt me

    I read this on the beeb......

    ...... adn thought there were a whole load of unanswered questions. Not to worry, I thought, ill wait till the reg covers the story properly.

    Where is it then? Youve just listed the whole thing from beeb. Come on reg, do your jobs. What were they supposed to save it in? Why do they need more lessons to catch up? Why werent they just batch re-saved?

    Is there even a story here?

    You used to be better than this. Whats the point in the reg if its just reprinting uninformed trripe off the beeb, especially on a story that actually has an IT angle.

  7. Paolo

    Evening tuition?

    1) File -> Save As -> [select some other format]

    2) Resubmit to exam board with grovelling note

    Why do they need evening tuition for that?

    Would be interested to hear what formats they do accept. i can't see Edexcel being an activist at the forefront of open document standard, but I'll be happy to be proven wrong.

  8. Neil Davis
    Gates Horns

    MS Word is the wrong format?

    In a word, PATHETIC. So having force fed our students with MS products, one is not allowed to submit documents in Word format? What did they want: OpenOffice ODT files?

    Or better still.... Paper?

  9. Martin Lyne


    ..the infallible edexcel could just reevaluate them after they've been converted.

    It's hard enough to get a fucking education, give the kids a break. Morons.

    (Although, I do promote open standards, but penalising people who are stuck in the MS sinkhole is not fair)

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft = fail

    No further comment, your honour.

  11. Dave

    What formats are OK?

    While applauding the exam board for not accepting proprietary closed formats, I do wonder what formats they accept. I'd guess PDF, seeing as it's slightly harder to change than a Word document (which may be the reason for not accepting Word).

  12. Neil Greatorex
    Gates Horns

    Word (s) fail me

    As a resident of Ruskington.

    I've previously mentioned that my 8 year old, under the guise of ICT, was being taught how to create Word documents, but that is at the Primary School next door. I didn't realise it carried on into secondary.

    He won't be going to Cotelands :-)

  13. Cameron Colley

    Can't they just convert them?

    What format should they have submitted it in? Surely they can just convert the Word documents into PDFs or HTML?

  14. Optymystic

    A very odd attitude for the board to take

    In my experience, though it is fifteen years out of date, very few examination boards would put themselves in the absurd position that the students' assessments are being unduly impaired by the bureaucratic negligence of their teachers. While the board's requirements may be eminently justified, this does seem like a problem to which there is a glaringly obvious solution - accept the assignments in the incorrect format .

  15. Chris


    Damn right to fail them. It should be submitted as a PDF or PostScript file, accompanied by the source file in LaTeX format. Or is that wishful thinking on my part?

    More seriously, when I did a part-time degree in Computer Science, the lecturers insisted on documentation being submitted as LaTeX files. I was familiar with this format, as I was a self taught programmer already earning a living writing Unix software. However, it confused the hell out of most of the other students - but not quite as much as learning to program C on a terminal attached to a VAX running VMS. Perhaps surprisingly, this was in late 1990's when MicroSoft Windows was already the standard at every other technical college I was aware of.

  16. Ash
    Thumb Down

    What is an acceptable format?

    XML? OpenDocument? Plain text?

    Finger painting?

    I know we all love any excuse to bash MS, but realistically if a company refused to accept MS document types they'd go out of business.

  17. EvilJason
    Thumb Down

    Odd that...

    Odd that there has not been any lawsuits from this?

    I mean both the school and the exam board have a duty of care to the students and if a mistake like this happened because of the administration and not the students fault then they should be libel to be sued as they should have excepted revised work because of the extraordinary circumstances.

    If the exam boards stance is it does not matter what the situation is they should have got the work in the correct format and there is nothing they can do they should all be fired for negligence to the students.


  18. Gav H.


    Oh well, at least they've learned an additional lesson on accepted formats and proprietary standards.

  19. Paul Stephenson


    it's a shame the student's have suffered at the hands of a cockup by the school, surely edexcel could have done something here?

    what format was thier work meant to be submitted in then? if not .doc did they want it on paper? very eco-friendly...

  20. Skinny

    Sorry Kids

    OK, So I accept that the exam board had specifications for submissions, but to fail an entire school because of a teachers mistake is stupid.

    If it's just 29 students, exactly how hard would it have been for them to just open them in word (I'm sure they have a copy somewhere, if not I'm sure they know someone who does) and then either print them for the examiners to check, or re-save in the correct format.

    Sure they should have reprimanded the school itself, fined them maybe, given them some bad press etc. but failing to mark the students work is just picking on the kids, for a problem not of their making, they were trusting their teacher.

    Happy Christmas kids, you just failed your exam because your teachers to stupid to read the specs, and we're too lazy to spend an hour undoing their mistake.

  21. ratfox Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    Words fail me. How could such a stupid situation ever happen??

    Paris-level of stupidity

  22. Alex Harvey


    Does this seem a proportionate consequence to the exam board?

    Isn't it a bit like failing someone for writing in pencil when they should've used pen?

  23. Liam

    night school????

    why not just copy & paste into rich text or open document format??? why do they need to go to a night course?

    i take it the extra cost comes from the teachers salary?

  24. Adrian Midgley

    a promising sign, but ...

    what format was demanded?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Why the hell

    should those kids have to stay into their own time (effectively punishing them) for someone else's cock up?

  26. Ryan Barrett
    Thumb Down

    Computer says no

    What a pathetic response from the exam board.

    Why, exacty, is stopping them printing off the exam entries and then marking them? Or allowing resubmission?

    Time to put an end to this sort of petty beaurocracy. Viva la revolution!

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Real World vs Education System

    Jobsworths!! Once again, education fails use industry standards or use common sense. Surelly the exam board could simply asked the students to resubmit in PDF / brail / stone tablets?

    If I email a word doc to a customer that can't read it, they dont say "FAIL, GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK" - they ask for it to be re-sent as a PDF! Whats this teaching the kids? Work as hard as you like, it wont make any difference as we'll trip you up on a MINOR technicality and ignore the content?!

  28. moylan

    what format should they have used?

    as word 97-2000 files are almost universaly readable. my phone opens them no worries. what format should they have used? or did they use new docx 2007 files?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Obviously a bug

    The school needs to debug their teacher that issued the illegal command. On the other side of the debate, the exam board should have found that anomalous amounts of data got rejected and asked for a resubmission in another format. Or they could have installed a converter themselves.

    This way the article is even more IT related.

  30. abigsmurf
    Paris Hilton

    Covering up incredibly poor results

    Edexcel have stated that they did receive all of the exams fine and that the they were all fully marked. Everyone failed simply because no one got a passing grade. This IS a school that is being merged due to it being a bit rubbish.

    It seems incredibly stupid for an exam board not to accept the Word formatted documents so I'm guessing Edexcel are the ones telling the truth.

  31. Leigh Smith

    What a crock!

    "We have offered evening tuition to the students to provide the opportunity for them to still achieve the qualification and a number have already taken this up."

    So the kids have to do extra work because of a teacher cock up? Nice. How about they just get the kids to resubmit their work in the correct format or just accept the Word versions and stop being a bunch of tedious jobsworths?

  32. Matt V
    Gates Horns

    Why exactly did they fail?

    Was it because, Edexcel were still using some legacy system that a team of consultants still hasn't been able to migrate to a 21st century platform? Or was it that, for an IT course, worshipping at the altar of Redmond is an automatic slap across the face?

  33. Benny


    Wait, so they did all the work already, the school cocked up and told them to save it in the wrong format, so now they have to do evening classes to redo the work?

    I think I've missed somthing here, cant they just resubmit in the correct format?

  34. Anonymous Coward

    File Format

    Seems that WordStar is the preferred format...

    Mines the one with WYSIWYG on the back

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    FAIL. But the bigger question is...

    ...WTF doesn't EdExcel accept coursework in Word format, given it's the most ubiquitous text document format on the planet?

  36. This post has been deleted by its author

  37. MacRat

    What format?

    What format were they supposed to use? Open Document? PDF?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Perfectly reasonable

    Part of exam technique is you read the fscking instructions!

    Paris, just because

  39. david

    Are there other formats?

    The one with "I'm a PC" stencilled on the back

  40. Paul Young
    Paris Hilton

    Cut & Paste

    Why can't the pupils just Cut & Paste into the right format, or save their work

    as the type of document required?

    Or maybe they are only taught about M$ Word


  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It was pen & ink in my day, and a right hand suffering cramps. Never did me any harm.

    Don't know they're born these days, flog the lot of 'em.

  42. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    What's the problem

    I was always being put in detention and it never did me any good. I'm sure there are plenty of reasons the kids aught to be doing detention but are getting away with it. And if the teaher has to stay behind too maybe he will learn something.

    At least they are not Harrin-gays.

    Are they?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not word?

    Probably because if the exam board aren't using exactly the same version of word as the school the document wont look the same and some pupils may be failed because of this.

    Its perfectly reasonable for the exam board to say the work must be submitted in format X where X is PDF, ODF, Latex, Word version X or whatever, as long as the format is specified.

  44. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    .doc appearance depends on the currently selected printer driver

    Every piece of technical documentation for electronic components that I have ever seen has been supplied in PDF. The electronics industry simply does not tolerate the hassle that Microsoft inflicts on people who think .doc is a usable file format. Well done to the examining board for encouraging children to use portable formats. Only one school is in the news for failing that part of the test. Congratulations to every other school for teaching something useful.

  45. Doug Glass

    Massive Format Changer

    "File" > "Save As"

  46. Daniel Evans
    Thumb Down

    Well in all fairness

    Have you ever tried reading the Edexcel course instructions?

    Our IT teachers saw the light halfway through the course and switched to another board - at least we knew what to do.

    But even on the Edexcel course everything was in M$ formats - and I've yet to see a single school system which doesn't require you to use M$ Office formats for everything.

  47. Chubs
    Thumb Down

    edexcel tied to the hip with MS

    Not sure why they didn't want Word docs. Going to their site and searching for "submissions" yielded interesting results. They seem to be using SharePoint for their web services and I found this link from a quick search letting people know they like .RTF files and how the students will have an easier time of it if they use Word...

  48. Tim Croydon

    What format was meant to be used?

    What type of coursework was it?

  49. Hollerith

    What did the Board want?

    OpenOffice? .RTF? Given the near universal use of Word, why not it? Bizarro-land.

  50. A J Stiles

    Ha Ha!

    I shouldn't laugh, really, but I can't help it .....

    Sending someone a Word document is retarded at best (since you don't know for certain that the person you're sending it to has [or, in these days of increasing Mac and Linux uptake, is even capable of running] Microsoft Word at all, let alone the same version as you) and could be considered to be aiding and abetting piracy at worst (depending on how they go about trying to deal with the situation).

    *You* can open an .odt file more easily than *I* can open a .doc file.


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