Northern Ireland

A-level exam 'leak': Belfast grammar pupils sanctioned

Boy doing exam paper
Image caption Some details of the business studies exam were shared on social media

Pupils at two Belfast grammar schools have received warnings or sanctions after an investigation into an alleged leak of details from an A-level exam.

Nine students at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI) and Methodist College (MCB) are affected, the BBC understands.

The investigation concerned the CCEA A2 business studies paper that candidates sat on the afternoon of Monday 12 June.

It is believed that some details from the exam were shared on social media.

The BBC understands two pupils will not receive their A-level grade as a result, but can re-sit the exam in the next school year.

'Examination malpractice'

However, the BBC also understands that most of the students involved received a warning - the lowest level of sanction - and will still receive their A-level result next week.

It is unclear how the alleged malpractice came to light.

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) - Northern Ireland's exam-setting and qualifications body - subsequently investigated the allegations.

Image copyright CCEA
Image caption The alleged leak was the subject of an investigation by the CCEA examinations board

The schools and pupils involved were informed of the outcome of the investigation this week.

In a statement, a CCEA spokesperson confirmed: "Following an allegation of examination malpractice at two Belfast schools, a full investigation has been carried out regarding the GCE Business Studies examination sat on 12 June."

"From the findings of the investigation, the CCEA malpractice committee has applied a range of penalties to candidates at both centres."

"CCEA will not make any further comment in regards to the investigation or outcome of the investigation, in order to protect the identity of the young people involved."

"For any suspected cases of malpractice, we thoroughly investigate the incident to ensure that no individual sitting a CCEA examination has an unfair advantage.

The number of malpractice cases "remain small in number", it added.

"Our advice to any student who comes across any suspicious examination content is to report it immediately to their teacher, principal or CCEA."

MCB said it had fully cooperated with the CCEA investigation, which came after it had passed information to the board following its own formal investigation.

"This is a deeply regrettable incident for all those involved," said a spokesperson for the school.

"All pupils at Methody are given clear guidance on how to conduct themselves during external examinations, including the requirement to report immediately to a member of staff, the principal or CCEA any incidence of the leaking of information about the content of an exam."

The BBC contacted RBAI, which said it had fully co-operated with CCEA on the matter.