‘I feel like BTecs are invisible’: Southampton student on results downgrade

Benjamin Carney, 18, from Hampshire, says he will have to spend another year at college to achieve his aim of going to university after one of his BTec results was downgraded.

Carney, who wants to study biology at Portsmouth University, was predicted a merit in applied science but got only a pass. This means despite getting a distinction in computing and IT, he does not have enough Ucas points to go to university without gaining an additional qualification. He says he will have to take an AS-level in biology next year unless his result is restored.

The teenager, who goes to Itchen sixth-form college in Southampton, planned to take a year out to save some money to support himself at university, but the downgrade meant this would not be possible.

His mother, Amanda Carney, says his classmates experienced similar downgrades, which she believes is because the college is in a deprived area.

Benjamin says: “I’m disappointed with the results I’ve received when we were reassured that we’d get the grades we deserved. I was expecting at least a merit. It makes me feel like there was no point in having gone through all the work.

“It’s thrown my plans out of whack as it means I’m going to have to keep going to college. I wanted to get a job to save up money for university. It will end up being harder for me.

“I’m just so disappointed with how the government has handled this. They’ve promoted the education secretary beyond his abilities. I feel like BTecs are invisible. Everything I’ve done has been undermined because they’ve decided to give grades based on a very basic system rather than reward people at an individual level. It feels like I’m being treated like a number.”

He and his mother joined other students, parents and teachers from his college at a protest about the results outside Southampton Guildhall on Tuesday afternoon.

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