A struggling college apologised to A-level students yesterday after they spent eight months being taught the WRONG book.
The pupils had been studying Bram Stoker’s Dracula – only to find they should have been reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein just TWO weeks before their exam.
The shock discovery left them with just 10 hours of lessons to cram the classic horror story before being tested on it next week.
The blunder happened at Newmarket College in Suffolk which was recently placed in special measures by Ofsted.
Staff failed to notice the books on the national A-level syllabus had changed last September.
College principal Bob Cadwalladr said he was ‘mortified’ by the error and had applied for ‘special consideration’ from the exam board.
Four students are affected by the mix-up and they are being given additional teaching sessions in a desperate attempt to help them catch up.
One of them is Abbie Stallabrass, 18, who said: “We just sat there stunned when our teacher told us.
“Dracula is one of the three books we had been studying and it was the one we’d spent the most time on and we are certainly not as confident about the other two.
“We now have to cram about eight months work into 10 hours – I can’t believe it.”
Mr. Cadwalladr said: “I am mortified by what has happened and very upset for the for the four students involved and their parents.
“The exam board changed the book list halfway through the course and we missed it.
“I have talked to the teacher involved about what happened, and why, and how we can avoid anything like this happening again.
“We have made formal representation to the exam board from special consideration for the four students involved as none of this was their fault.
“I can only apologise to the students and parents involved.”
Pupils at the Nobel School in Stevenage, Herts., suffered a similar blunder earlier this month when they found they had studied the wrong syllabus just hours before their AS English Literature exam.
They were unable to answer all the questions of their paper and their head teacher has written to the exam board for special consideration.
An exam board appeared to have come to the pupils’ rescue by allowing them to incorporate Dracula into part of their answers.
A spokeswoman for AQA said: “Exam boards do change set texts from time to time and where this happens we ensure that we let schools know.
“There is an established way of doing this and the exams regulator Ofqual has confirmed that we communicated this change appropriately to schools.
“Where a school has taught the wrong text by mistake, we work with them to find a solution so that students aren’t disadvantaged.
“In this case, we have put arrangements in place so that students will be able refer to Dracula in part of their responses and their answers will be marked as normal.”
The blunder was only picked up by chance when a separate teacher the school, which teaches from the age of 11 to 18 began his preparation for the next academic year.
The English teacher – who taught the coursework for the student’s A level – was reading through the curriculum for September 2013 with another member of staff when the error was spotted.
Without his intervention the pupils would not have reached the exam before discovering the book they have studied is not included on the paper.
Abbie Stallabrass, 18, said: “The teacher was being strangely nice when we went into the classroom.
“Then she said there has been a cock-up and the text you have been studying has not been in the exam.
“I was so angry I couldn’t even speak.
“It makes you worry there are serious problems with communication within the school.
“They received a letter last year telling them the last time Dracula would be on the syllabus would be January.
“We had five hours of tuition on Friday but we’ll never get back to the standard we were at with the other book
Abbie, who is aiming for a B in the subject will sit the two-hour literature exam on June 6, at the same time as pupils across the country.