Dáil Éireann - Volume 553 - 26 June, 2002

Written Answers. - State Examinations.

  170. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will initiate an investigation into the leaving certificate honours biology paper and the difficulties faced by the students who took the examination in 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14904/02]

  Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Concerns have been expressed about aspects of the biology paper. Our examination system is acknowledged to be one of the most open, transparent and pro-candidate national examination systems in the world. Mechanisms are in place to take on board genuine concerns that interested parties, including schools and students, might have in relation to the examinations. Over and above any individual observations submitted, as a matter of course, subject associations and the teacher unions regularly each year provide observations on question paper [1504] content to the Department in advance of each marking conference.

  All observations received in relation to a subject are made available to the chief examiner for consideration in the context of preparing the marking scheme for that subject. The marking scheme is developed at the marking conference by the chief examiner and the team of examiners who are drawn from teachers of the subject.

  Correspondence received in my Department in relation to the leaving certificate higher level biology examination paper has been brought to the attention of the chief examiner and the advisory team of examiners. They considered this correspondence during the development of the marking scheme for the subject and in addition, the experienced teachers who act as assistant examiners have been able to input their own considered views into the formulation of the marking scheme. This finalised marking scheme will be published and will be available to candidates who seek to view their scripts and they can study its application to their respective scripts. I strongly believe it would be utterly inappropriate for me or any Minister to interfere in the work of the chief examiner and the team of examiners.