Leaving Cert student says cheating 'widespread'

 

THE CARLOW student at the centre of the Leaving Cert cheating row has claimed the practice was widespread in the exams this year.

The student – who does not want to be named – sparked the exam-cheating controversy by posting her concerns on the boards.ie website this week.

She said she started the thread after seeing “the boasts of a number of the cheaters on Facebook”.

“Cheating has become part of the culture this year,” she told The Irish Timesyesterday.

“It happened in the mocks and other exams and you always expect one or two to chance their arm but I didn’t think it would be as widespread as it is for the Leaving Cert. It was fairly shocking.”

“I wanted to know whether I should report them, and who I should tell,” she said. “I was just looking for advice. I never in a million years expected there to be such a fuss over the whole thing.”

Initial responses advised her to mind her own business and not to be a “snitch”.

“But then more responses came in saying that they were seeing similar stuff in their schools and that I should report the cheats,” she said. “Some people suggested I contact the State Exams Commission (SEC) about the thread so that’s what I did.”

Last weekend, the student e-mailed the SEC alerting them to the thread.

“The Irish exam was coming up and I knew that everyone would be at it,” she said. “I thought maybe with all the fuss, people would be less likely to try something.”

But, she said, nothing had changed. “There was a girl going around school on the day of the Irish exam with notes written all over her arm and hand. She just kept her sleeve pulled down over her fingers when she was walking around the school.

“The supervisors checked the toilets for text books but people aren’t stupid. They bring the notes or mobile phones into the bathrooms with them. There are phones hidden up sleeves, there’s a guy who keeps his in his pocket but he disguises the shape of it with tissues.”

Some people on the boards.ie thread advised the student to pass on the number of the exam centre to the SEC. She did this.

“An inspector in a suit turned up at the school yesterday,” she said. “I don’t know if the SEC getting the exam centre number and that man turning up are connected but I hope they are. Maybe he’ll make a difference.”

She acknowledged that catching a cheat was a big ask. “What are supervisors going to do? They can’t frisk them,” she said. She did feel however that more of an effort could be made. “The supervisors walk up and down the hall for the first part of the exam but soon enough they sit down and read or talk to each other. Half the time they wouldn’t be looking at you at all.

“I suppose I know who to look for and they don’t but still – they could make things a bit more difficult for the cheats.”

The student feels uncomfortable at the idea of approaching a teacher. “The cheats are keeping an eye on anyone who talks to a teacher. I wouldn’t feel comfortable naming names to someone in the school because it would probably get traced back to me.”

Despite the unexpected whirl of publicity surrounding the thread, she has no regrets about starting the debate. “I know that some people don’t agree with what I did, but I was just trying to find out what I should do. It’s just so unfair to think that I’ve done my work, I’m trying to get through the exams honestly, and my paper will be marked alongside people’s who didn’t get their grade honestly.”