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Complaint to Brighton and Hove City College, regarding an English GCSE distance learning course.

After many letters, the person responsible (JA) finally started to address my concerns, after I informed that I would get in touch with the LEA (local education authority).

One of the letters I had to send is shown below:


Dear Jane Armstrong:                                                  

Further to my previous communication, and not having received a satisfactory response, I am writing again to request a reply.

The way you dealt with my recent complaint (emailed to you on 2nd June 2003) was very unprofessional. You decided to ignore all my concerns, not having had the courtesy to reply to my complaint (you have not even answered the question I asked you).  You have expressed your concerns about your auditors. I would have expected that you would dedicate as much attention to the students as you do to these auditors.
I believe that the main objective of the college is to provide good standards of education and not  to keep auditors satisfied.  I am undertaking my exam tomorrow and I am concerned about learning and achieving the best results that I possibly can, not needing at present to be aware of your internal white-collar procedures.

It is surprising that you have tried to sell me (again) the same product that I have been complaining about. Apart from being difficult to book a tutorial with R, I don’t think that it is value for money. If I am paying £20 per hour, I expect to be taught by someone that is experienced and also familiar with all aspects of  GCSE examination procedures: syllabus, marking scheme, etc. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.  I will  provide  a few examples, in order to try to illustrate my point.

Example 1: during one of the ‘tutorials’, I showed R one of my writings and then I asked her if I could achieve a ‘B’ grade with that standard of work. I hope that you agree that this information would be extremely important,  because it would allow me to devise a strategy to achieve a good result on the exams. She replied that she didn’t know. Next, she started reading the marking scheme. It took her about five minutes to read the marking scheme and to provide an inconclusive answer. Considering that I am paying £20 per hour for this service, these wasted five minutes have cost me £1.66. I believe that she should have studied the marking scheme in her own time.

Example 2: During a tutorial at the Connaught Centre, R asked us if we had a particular issue which we needed help with. One of my fellow students (who I don’t want to name because of the humiliation he/she suffered) mentioned spelling. R’s answer was: ‘If you still haven’t learnt how to spell , there is nothing you can do about it now’. That was three weeks before the exam. I do not think that is worth paying to listen to this sort of comment. Then I asked R how to spell  the word ‘transferred’ and  she said that this word was difficult and ignored my request.

 I remain very dissatisfied with the assistance (or perhaps the lack of it) that I have been given so far by R. I need to be told what the important points to be made about the texts on the pre-release booklet are. All the students in the country have received this information from their teachers but I did not receive it. If I don’t receive this information I will be handicapped. I could not obtain this information from R.  I have also said to R that I was willing to pay for the information or for the tutorial. She gave me a series of excuses for not having time for tutorials: ‘my diary is filling fast’, ‘my husband is going away soon and I want to spend lots of time with him’, ‘it is a bank holiday weekend’, etc. I finally managed to book a tutorial but she cancelled it on the last moment (this incident is described in my email to you dated 2nd June). Since then, she refused to answer to my emails. All she said about the pre-release booklet was that we have to make a point about the word ‘batchy’, which appears in one of the texts. I find pathetic that this is the only information that I was provided with.  I have made a payment of £160 pounds to this centre and I still don’t have the most important information I need, that is the interpretation of the pre-release booklet.

I would be most grateful if you would clarify the following points for me:

  1. What do you think about the fact that I have to write to you in order to have a reply from R?
  2. Do you think that I will pass the exam only by describing the word batchy ? Does it concern you that a number of students at your centre may go to the exam handicapped, because of this lack of essential information? Are you taking any action with respect to that?
  3. Could you please tell me how I can obtain the information I need (comments on the pre-release booklet)? Is it possible to get help from some other teacher at the college?
  4.  Why was I told about your white-collar procedures when they actually did not answer my query?
  5.  Could you please comment on the GCSE teaching experience of your tutor R? 


I am looking forward to hearing your comments on the five points mentioned above


Yours sincerely,

Ricardo Oliveira Esplugas