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Friday 23 February 2018

Leaving Cert results permanently withheld after cheating but it's unlikely students will face State exam ban penalty

Leaving Cert students (stock photo)
Leaving Cert students (stock photo)

Sasha Brady

A total of 38 Leaving Certificate results have been permanently withheld, the State Examination Commission (SEC) has confirmed to Independent.ie.

38 results or marks have been permanently withheld from students who were found to be cheating during this year's Leaving Cert examinations.

In the case of results being permanently withheld, the entire subject that a student was found guilty of cheating in is wiped from their Leaving Certificate.

In the case of a mark being withheld, the student's grade on the subject is calculated based on the remaining marks.

The SEC also confirmed that an additional 34 results, on a without prejudice basis, are pending further investigation this year.

This means that the investigation into cheating allegations were not concluded before the Leaving Cert results were issued last week.

The investigations are currently pending with the individuals and the schools concerned, according to the SEC.

"The principles of natural justice are applied when following up such cases," an SEC spokesperson told Independent.ie.

"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 most common penalty applied is withholding the result off the certificate but students also face a potential ban from sitting any State examination for a fixed period of time. This includes driving tests, legal exams and civil service exams.

However, the SEC told Independent.ie that the ban has never been applied.

"Where a candidate is involved in multiple breaches of the regulations such as copying in more than one subject, the withholding of all results is considered. The ultimate sanction of also debarring a candidate from sitting the state examinations in future years has not needed to be applied in the recent past," the spokesperson confirmed.

The decision to withhold a mark or a subject off the Leaving Certificate is subject to appeal.

A total of 118 Leaving and Junior Cert results or marks were withheld in 2016.

Breaches of the SEC exam regulations include bringing into the exam hall "any books, notes, papers, mobile phone, electronic address book, data bank, etc. other than the examination paper or answer book supplied to him/her by the Superintendent."

Candidates must not be in possession of such devices whether switched on or not.

Candidates are also not allowed to communicate with any other candidate inside the exam hall or any person outside the centre while the exam is taking place.

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