The Scots College was forced to cancel one of its trial HSC exams on Tuesday morning after two papers were stolen in a late-night break-in hours before the exam was due to begin.
The eastern suburbs boys' school is under pressure to expel students if they are found to have been behind the heist, which saw two physics papers go missing from a storage cupboard in the school's Bellevue Hill grounds on Monday night.
Scots is one of about 480 NSW schools, public and private, that use trial HSC papers written by the Catholic Schools Secondary Association (CSSA) and it was one of these papers that was stolen. Developed in 1967, the association's papers are recognised as some of the most rigorous exam papers and are seen as good preparation for the HSC.
NSW Police are investigating the break-in and college staff told students on Tuesday morning that the test would be rewritten and rescheduled for next week.
A parent who contacted Fairfax Media said year 12 students at the school were demanding that the boys involved be expelled from the school.
Scots head of curriculum John Montgomery said the college was reviewing its procedures for the storage of trial exam papers and would co-operate with police inquiries.
"This incident is very upsetting and extremely disappointing. Today, our focus is on ensuring students are supported in the change to schedules and, as far as possible, mitigating the impacts on students," Dr Montgomery said.
The CSSA has strict protocols around the use of its trial papers, including that principals ensure the papers are stored securely at the school, that they are not given to any teachers who are also private tutors or have relatives sitting the HSC, and any security breaches are dealt with immediately.
A spokesman for the CSSA said the physics exams went ahead as planned at other schools but Scots would not be sitting any more of the papers.
"Our understanding is that Scots College will not be sitting any of the CSSA exams that were kept in that cupboard," the spokesman said.
"CSSA doesn't believe the exams have been compromised by this incident but we are monitoring the situation and if we receive information that changes our view, we will notify schools immediately."
He said Scots notified CSSA on Tuesday morning, soon after the break-in was discovered.
It is understood the room where the papers were stored was checked about 10pm on Monday and the break-in happened after that.
Schools are required to report any students who break exam rules in school-based assessment tasks to the NSW Education Standards Authority, which can then refer them to the authority's examination rules committee.
The committee can impose penalties that include zero marks or the possible loss of the HSC.