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Monday, 25th January 2021

Students shouldn’t be left in limbo on Junior and Leaving Cert - Hall

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Councillor Michelle Hall.

The Leaving and Junior Cert exams are stressful times for students at the best of times but even more so this year with the uncertainty over whether or not they are going to take place or be replaced with calculated grades.

It doesn’t help that Minister for Education Norma Foley has been sending out mixed messages of late.

Initially she said that it is her intention to hold the exams as usual but a poll published last week indicated that just 4% of students ae in favour of holding the exams while a majority indicated that they want a choice between sitting exams and calculated grades.

Locally, Labour Councillor Michelle Hall, whose daughter was a Leaving Cert student in 2020 and her son is due to sit this year’s Leaving Cert, has called for a decision to be made on the holding of the traditional exams by early February to give students certainty for the rest of the school year.

“The reality now is that the traditional Leaving and Junior Cert exams won’t go ahead in their usual format” Councillor Hall said.

“Due to the ongoing closure of schools this has become inevitable, and it is the Labour Party position that it needs to be decided on within the next two weeks. 

“Final year students in secondary schools have already missed nearly three months of in-school tuition last year, and with classes now online for another few months it will be impossible to hold the usual mock exams, oral and practical components. The uncertainty of not knowing is also adding to the existing stress of being in an exam year.

“The Labour Party wants a decision made quickly so that the time available can be used now to plan properly for alternatives. We need answers from the government on how will these students be assessed considering they have only had two- and a-bit terms between 5th and 6th year? There are also issues in relation to how repeat students will be accommodated.

“Students also need to know will assessments that teachers give students over the next two months be counted towards a Leaving Cert grade.

“If the Department has carried out a risk analysis on the Leaving Cert going ahead as usual then it should also be published.

“In all the commentary about the Leaving Cert we also shouldn’t forget about the near 60,000 pupils who were meant to sit their Junior Cert. If that isn’t going ahead, then the students shouldn’t be left in limbo and the decision should be announced.

“Whatever arrangement is made, whether an option to sit written exams, or predicted grades again, we still believe that school profiling should not be used.”

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