'Potentially serious' case of exam cheating under inquiry

 

THE STATE Examinations Commission is investigating, “potentially serious” allegations of Leaving Cert cheating, it confirmed last night.

The commission was contacted by a student who originally posted concerns about exam cheating on the online discussion forum boards.ie last Saturday.

Last night, the commission confirmed it was monitoring discussion forums and social networking sites this year. But this is the first cheating inquiry triggered by posts on a social networking site.

The commission said it was “aware of the discussion” about cheating and had already begun an investigation – before being contacted by the student.

The student claimed to have seen students hiding English poetry texts in the school toilets, while others hid notes in socks and jeans. Another student allegedly read texts on her mobile phone – detailing exam answers – while taking the exam.

The student has also told the commission that exam students were in mobile phone contact with fellow Leaving Cert students at pre-arranged times during exam breaks.

She posted: “I know for definite that Irish will be the exam that most will cheat on because of learning notes off by heart will prove too much effort for them,” and went on to wonder: “Should I inform the superintendents of how stupid they’re being or e-mail the State Examinations Commission?”

The “thread” – running to 15 pages – was one of the most popular on boards.ie yesterday, with some posters encouraging the student to contact the authorities and others accusing the student of being a “snitch’’.

One contributor made allegations about cheating in another school: “Someone I know is cheating. He went to the bathroom four times in one exam, and goes quite often in the rest . . . He carries notes in the hood of his hoodie. I know this for a fact.”

In last year’s Leaving Cert, the commission withheld 83 grades from students in subjects including Irish, English, maths, history and geography.

The Minister for Education can impose a range of sanctions on exam cheats including debarring the candidate from entering any exam run by the department “for such period as the Minister may determine”.

A decade ago, an Irish film How To Cheat In The Leaving Certificate– detailing the antics of six students – gained a strong cult following. A few weeks before it went on general release the then junior minister for education Willie O’Dea condemned it.