Ruling means Leaving Cert students can get copies of scripts

By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent

This year’s Leaving Certificate students can, for the first time, get a copy of their written Leaving Certificate answers or recording of their oral tests.

As a result of a European Court of Justice ruling in December granting an Irish student access to his professional accountancy exam scripts, Leaving Certificate students can also photograph their marked exam script when viewing them to decide whether to appeal a grade.

Original scripts can be viewed at the school at the end of this month by those considering appeals. However, those who do not take this option must wait up to three months for a copy of their written exam script to be provided.

This exception to the 30-day rule for acceding to data access requests is to ensure the State Examinations Commission (SEC) can conclude the appeal system by mid-October. The exams authority issued over 1m grades to 120,000 Junior and Leaving Certificate students last year. The facility for data access requests will also be extended to Junior Certificate exams after almost 63,000 students get their results next month.

As well as their exam papers written in June during the Leaving Certificate, students getting results today are entitled to a recording of their answers at oral tests in Irish and other languages. However, questions asked by oral examiners will not be heard as they do not constitute a student’s personal data.

The SEC’s rule changes do not mean former Leaving Certificate students can get a copy of their exam answers, as the SEC disposes of exam material at the end of each year unless it is the subject of an extended appeal process.

For those considering an appeal this year, they will not be able to photocopy the exam papers being sent to schools for students to review at the end of the month.

Because the European court ruling deemed that exam scripts were personal data, there are strict controls over who has access to the scripts. However, for the first time, a student can bring a phone, tablet, or digital camera to make their own copy when viewing their script.

Last year, the SEC returned over 397,000 marked Junior and Leaving Certificate scripts to be viewed by students before the closing date to appeal a grade.

Students who want to appeal a grade do not have to view their script first, but are strongly advised to do so in order to avoid the small risk of a downgrade. This access is restricted to written work like exam scripts answered in June or coursework journals submitted for some subjects.

A student can be accompanied by one person to viewing sessions at schools on Friday, August 31, or Saturday, September 1. Applications to view scripts have to be made by next Tuesday so material can be sent to schools by the SEC in time.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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