Northern Ireland

Probe underway after GCSE students given wrong Maths exam paper

Mistake only discovered when pupils at Derry school were nearly an hour into the exam

An enquiry is underway into exam “chaos” which resulted in GCSE students at St Joseph’s Boys’ School in Derry being given the wrong Maths paper.
St Joseph’s Boys’ School in Derry

An enquiry is underway after pupils at a Co Derry school were given the wrong GCSE Maths paper.

The mistake was only discovered after students at St Joseph’s Boys’ School in Derry were already at least 40 minutes into the exam.

They then had to sit a new paper, which, according to one parent, left some of the boys “distressed”.

The circumstances around the exam, which pupils sat on May 16, is being investigated by the Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), The Irish News understands.

It is believed the situation arose as a result of the Mathematics Unit 1 (Foundation) and Mathematics Unit 2 (Foundation) modules of the CCEA exam taking place in the school hall at the same time.

A spokesperson for CCEA told The Irish News: “While CCEA is unable to comment on individual cases, we wish to highlight that we take all matters such as these very seriously and remain committed to ensuring that the interests of all learners are protected.”

The spokesperson added: “The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) of which CCEA is a member, has clear instructions for senior leaders in schools to follow.

“This ensures examinations are conducted appropriately and the integrity of the assessment process is protected.”

According to one parent the paper mix-up was just one in a catalogue of errors before the exam.

It is alleged pupils were delayed entry to the examination hall, in order to get settled, because it was not set up on time.

Examination cards, on which pupils needed to fill in their candidate and centre numbers were not on their desks, as normal.

In addition, pupils with exam concessions/extra time did not have this written on their desk/card and, because they could not be identified, some of them did not get their extra time.

The parent, who does not want to be identified, said there was “complete chaos and confusion before and during the exams”.

They added: “The pupils were seriously disadvantaged by the chaotic environment, errors with papers, incorrect times and a lack of clear times being displayed.

“The children and parents are now concerned about their GCSE Maths results.”

The parent said she and others feared their sons will have “underperformed due to the poor exam conditions and regulations not being met”.

“Parents want to know what measures will be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

While not addressing the specific allegations St Joseph’s Boys’ principal Ciara Deane issued a short response saying: “I can confirm the systems and processes pertaining to all public examinations are in place as per JCQ guidelines.”