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151 students given wrong exam mark in blunder

An exam blunder has resulted in 151 students from schools across Northern Ireland receiving the wrong A-level results.

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has ordered an external investigation into how incorrect results for the chemistry A-level were issued last week.

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment announced yesterday afternoon that incorrect marks were awarded in the multiple choice section of an A2 chemistry paper and “apologised unreservedly”.

This meant that 151 students from 41 schools and colleges received lower grades than they should have.

When the failure in the marking process was discovered, CCEA informed the Department of Education and immediately took a range of actions. This included awarding the correct grade to students, informing the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), contacting the affected schools and checking all other multiple choice A-level and GCSE papers to confirm that all checks were clear.

CCEA also set up a dedicated team to help manage the issue and support candidates.

CCEA’s interim chief executive Gavin Boyd said: “Staff at CCEA are very disappointed by this failure and we apologise unreservedly for any distress this has caused to students, their families and teachers.

“On this occasion CCEA’s quality assurance procedures did not ensure that the correct grade was issued for the candidates. This is unacceptable and it falls far beneath the standards we set ourselves as an organisation.

“A formal internal investigation is under way to discover how the incorrect marks were awarded on this occasion.

“CCEA can confirm that the majority of students affected applied to Queen’s University Belfast. CCEA has already been assured by QUB that offers will be honoured in relation to the candidates affected. We believe that all higher education institutions will honour the offers made to students and we are working with UCAS to |ensure that this is the case.”

Ms Ruane said: “While I have been advised that no young person should miss out on their university place, this scenario should have never arisen.

“While I acknowledge the immediate and unequivocal apology from CCEA, the body has clearly fallen short of the high standards of accuracy the public and I, as minister, expect of a public examinations body.

“Early indications suggest that the systems in place were not adhered to, but I would prefer to await the findings of the external investigation before commenting further on this aspect.”

A telephone helpline has been set up by CCEA — (028) 90261403.

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