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45 students have Leaving Cert results withheld over fears they cheated


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A total of 45 students who sat the Leaving Certificate this year have not been given results over fears they have cheated.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) confirmed today that these students’ results have been provisionally withheld.

An SEC spokesman said the results are from across a range of subjects - Irish, English, Maths, Geography, French, Art, Chemistry, Business, Politics and Society, Construction Studies and the Leaving Cert Vocational Programme.

"These include full results withheld, or marks withheld, from candidates found to be in breach of the SEC's examinations regulations,” he said.

The decision to withhold a result or marks is open to appeal.

The spokesman confirmed that the 45 results provisionally withheld compares to 57 grades in Leaving Cert exams and 11 grades in Junior Cert exams that were withheld in 2019.

He said there was no data for 2020 due to the small cohort of candidates who sat the deferred exams.

Some 72 Leaving Cert results were permanently withheld for the 2018 exams which was a sharp increase on the 57 results permanently withheld in 2017. In 2016 100 results were withheld while in 2015 the figure was 101.

Those suspected of cheating in the Leaving Cert this year represent a tiny proportion of the 60,000 students did their Leaving Cert this year, 87pc of whom chose a combination of written exams and accredited grades.

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The spokesman confirmed that principles of natural justice are applied when following up cases of suspected cheating.

“Details of the evidence available, such as superintendent’s reports, confiscated material or items, notes or work prepared that exhibits evidence of collusion, is given to the candidate through his/her school.

“The candidate is invited to offer a response to the evidence presented and the school authorities are also free to offer comment if they consider it appropriate. The final decision is communicated in writing to the candidate again via his/her school,” he said.

"While every effort is made to conclude an investigation prior to the issue of the examination results, it is not always possible to do so. In these circumstances results are withheld on a without prejudice basis pending further communication with the schools and candidates concerned.”

At each exam centre, notices are placed in prominent locations warning students of the penalties for cheating.

They are warned that they are liable to have their whole examination cancelled if they bring in the likes of iPods, MP3/4 Players or mobile phones into the exam hall.

Students are also warned that they risk having their exam cancelled if they aid or attempt to aid another candidate or obtain or attempt to obtain aid from another candidate.

Candidates also face having their exam cancelled if they attempt to communicate with other students in the exam centre during the exam or by electronic means with people outside the centre.

According to the SEC, cases of suspected cheating can come to light in a number of ways including an examiner may detect similar work from more than one candidate when correcting work from the same centre or an examiner may discover notes or paper brought in by a candidate.

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