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New rules on Leaving Cert to cut blunders

SIX new safeguards are to be introduced next month in an attempt to ensure that Leaving Cert papers are not accidentally leaked again.

However, students preparing for their final exams have been warned that the "risk of error can never be entirely eliminated," according to Education Minister Mary Coughlan.

Last year, authorities were forced to reschedule an English paper for a Saturday after a superintendent distributed the wrong paper to students in a Drogheda school.

The mistake created extra stress for students and cost €1.7m.

The measures include:

  • timetable changes;

  • redesigned examination paper packets and labels;

  • face-up distribution of papers;

  • a dedicated phone number for superintendents to contact the SEC.

Also, any subject with two written exam papers will be scheduled on morning and afternoon sessions and colour-coded differently.

The examination papers -- which will be printed in Britain -- will also be redesigned "to prioritise the key information".

Each superintendent will be partnered with another superintendent for the purposes of validating each other's papers to ensure that they each have the correct one.

As has happened in previous years, a candidate in the examination centre will also be asked to witness the opening of the packet of examination papers and to confirm that the packet has not been tampered with.

Examination papers will also be handed out facing up for the first time, enabling candidates to see whether they have received the correction paper.

Ms Coughlan notes that there will also be enhanced training material and instructions for superintendents.