Exam authority talks to superintendent who distributed paper


ENGLISH PAPER 2 LEAK:THE SUPERINTENDENT whose error led to the rescheduling of the Leaving Cert English paper has been interviewed by senior officials from the State Exams Commission.

The retired teacher was questioned by the officials on Wednesday immediately after his error came to light. He has also faced questioning as part of the inquiry into the affair ordered by Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe.

The teacher was not available for comment at his home in Dundalk, Co Louth, yesterday.

Both he and his family are well known and respected in education circles; his brother is chief executive of one of the county vocational education committees (VECs).

More than 50,000 students will today take the back-up paper 2 in English after the original paper was mistakenly distributed by the superintendent at St Oliver’s Community College in Drogheda.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) prepares a contingency paper to cover each Leaving Cert exam. Both the actual paper and the contingency paper are prepared by separate teams working independently of each other.

The chief examiner in English is the only person who knows which of the two papers will be the actual exam paper.

Even without the rescheduling, today’s English paper is perhaps the most arduous in the entire Leaving Certificate. The course is a broad one with, for instance, eight prescribed poets but, of these, only four will appear in the exam.

The leaked paper featured questions on John Keats, Michael Longley, Elizabeth Bishop and Derek Walcott.

The SEC last night stressed that both the initial English paper and today’s alternative paper are stand-alone papers and were developed independently of each other by different teams of personnel under the direction of the chief examiner in Leaving Certificate English.

Critically, it says “no inference should be drawn by candidates, based on what they have heard about the initial paper, as to what may, or may not be, on the paper being provided for Saturday’s examination.

“Again, candidates are advised to prepare for their examination in the normal way and to expect an examination paper that contains an appropriate range of material based on the prescribed syllabus.”

The rescheduling of the exam will cost the taxpayer about €1 million. The Department of Education says regular school transport services will be made available for the exams – at both higher and ordinary level – which begin at 9.30am.

Last night, An Post said the exam papers had been delivered to more than 4,000 exam centres.