SEC permanently withholds 39 students' Leaving Cert results due to cheating

Sec Permanently Withholds 39 Students' Leaving Cert Results Due To Cheating
The number of results withheld this year was just one off the figure from 2022. Photo: PA Images
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Gordon Deegan

Thirty-nine Leaving Cert students found cheating in this year's State exams have had their results permanently withheld by the State Examinations Commission (SEC).

New figures provided by the SEC show that 39 exam results from the Leaving Cert/Leaving Cert Applied were permanently withheld this year.


The figures provided by the SEC relating to this year's Leaving Cert and Leaving Cert Applied exams also showed a further 21 results were also provisionally withheld on a without prejudice basis pending further communication with the schools and candidates in question.

The 39 exam results permanently withheld “includes full results withheld, or marks withheld, from candidates found to be in breach of the SEC's examinations regulations,” the SEC explained, adding that the decision is open to appeal from the candidates.

The combined total of withheld results this year is just one fewer than 2022's total of 61 which were permanently withheld following the conclusion of all review and appeal processes

On the 39 students to have results withheld this year, a spokesperson for the SEC said: “Due to the small number of candidates involved, for privacy reasons, we do not provide any regional or gender breakdown.”


This year, 59,727 registered for the Leaving Cert and 3,812 for the Leaving Cert Applied.

"The most common penalty applied is the withholding of the result in the subject in question," the SEC spokesperson said.

"Where a more serious breach of the regulations occurs, such as copying in more than one subject, withholding of all results and/or debarring from repeating the examination may be applied.

"Withholding of results occurs as a consequence of a candidate attempting to gain advantage in the examination by means which contravene the regulations for the conduct of candidates during examinations as set out in the Rules and Programmes for Secondary Schools," they added.


The SEC said suspected cheating can come to light in a number of ways, including correctors detecting similar work from more than one student in the same exam centre, or discovering notes or paper brought into the exam by a candidate.

"The principles of natural justice are applied when following up such cases," the SEC spokesperson said.

"Details of the evidence available, such as superintendent’s reports, confiscated material or items, notes or work prepared that exhibits evidence of collusion, is given to the candidate through his/her school.

"The candidate is invited to offer a response to the evidence presented and the school authorities are also free to offer comments if they consider it appropriate."


The spokesperson added: "The final decision is communicated in writing to the candidate again via his/her school. A decision to withhold a result is open to appeal.

"While every effort is made to conclude an investigation prior to the issue of the examination results, it is not always possible to do so."

According to the SEC, in the interest of being fair to all candidates, the commission must be satisfied that marks awarded have been gained fairly and added that it will investigate any suggestion, suspicion or allegation of cheating or other impropriety in relation to the examinations.

"This is essential in order to uphold the integrity of the Irish State examinations system and to underpin equity and fairness within the system in order to enable all candidates to display their achievements on an equal footing," the SEC said.

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