Wednesday 22 November 2017

Exam chiefs slammed over error

TD Olivia Mitchell said she has been contacted by several parents. Photo: Tom Burke
TD Olivia Mitchell said she has been contacted by several parents. Photo: Tom Burke

John Walshe

THE embattled State Examinations Commission (SEC) has admitted that it printed the Leaving Certificate accounting papers which had missing pages.

Although the bulk of exam papers are printed in the UK, about 15pc of them are still printed by the commission itself. This year's SEC print run included the accounting exams.

On Monday, more than 200 students in 16 south Dublin schools were given papers that had missing pages containing questions that accounted for half the marks.

The error caused confusion as schools sought to contact the SEC, which was then forced to fax or email the missing pages to the schools.

Schools were given permission to allow extra time for students to complete the paper, but the amount of time ranged from 10 minutes to 35 minutes.

The SEC said last night it had instructed the 16 schools on Monday afternoon that students should start the original paper provided and then be given the correct version as soon as it was available.

Upset

Last night, Fine Gael Dublin South TD Olivia Mitchell said she was contacted by several parents whose sons and daughters were seriously upset by "this fiasco".

"Many of the pupils affected are bright, high-end students doing the higher-level accounting exams in the hope of achieving high points," she said.

"This event has been hugely disruptive and upsetting for them. The unfairness of the situation is exacerbated by the fact that different schools dealt differently with the problem.

"Some added time at the end but allowed the exam to continue while the missing questions were sourced, while other schools put the whole exam on hold until the full paper was available," she said.

Labour education spokesman Ruairi Quinn said the litany of mistakes made by the SEC in recent days raised serious questions about the continued need for the organisation.

"Several exam papers have not been proof-read in advance and there have been routine cock-ups in the administration of the exams.

"The commission routinely pleads that 'no student will be disadvantaged' by its mistakes. This is simply not good enough for students or for taxpayers, who give the organisation almost €60m every year," he added.

Irish Independent

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