15/08/2011 13:03 BST | Updated 15/10/2011 06:12 BST

Students Get EdExcel A-Level Results A Week Early

Students were hit by yet another exam board blunder on Saturday as A-level results were posted online almost a week earlier than the official release date.

Edexcel, one of the biggest examining boards in the country, left the results online for almost three hours. Thousands of students had access to the website, but EdExcel claimed 'less than 50' had found out their grades.

The results were made available on EdExcel's website while technicians tested the computer servers. Part of Edexcel's system went 'live', meaning students could log in and access their results.

The mistake was only brought to the exam board's attention after Richard Cairns, head teacher at Brighton College, notified them on Saturday afternoon. EdExcel claims that the error only affected fewer than 50 students were rejected by Mr Cairns who said around 90 pupils from the independent school in East Sussex alone had discovered their results early.

He told the Times: "Early release of results means we are not in a position to support and advise any pupil who has not met the conditions of their university offer. They heard about the results at home, on the weekend when none of us were on hand to help."

Despite Saturday's slip up, the qualification watchdog OfQual still supports the release of exam results online. But OfQual criticised EdExcel for not taking adequate steps to ensure the results remained inaccessible.

A spokesperson for OfQual said: "We would expect systems and procedures to be in place to mitigate any risk of results being available ahead of the scheduled time."

This is the second time Edexcel has had to issue a grovelling apology to students in the past two months. In June this year, a multiple-choice question set in a biology AS-level paper did not contain the correct answer.

Questions are now being raised over the competency of exam boards after nearly

30,000 Scottish students received their exam results a day before the rest of their peers earlier this month.

Both Edexcel and their competitors AQA were also pulled up over errors made in several AS-level papers in June.

Ofqual is currently conducting investigations into the question paper errors but results have yet to be published.

In response to the Edexcel error on Saturday, a spokesperson for Ucas said: "Our systems and processes have not been affected by this incident and the clearing system will go live as planned on August 18."