Students suspect Leaving Cert still won’t happen
Uncertainty still looms over the Leaving Cert in the minds of some local students, despite official assurances from the Education Minister that the exams will get underway on July 29.
Minister Joe McHugh outlined last Thursday that the State exams would proceed on the July date, based upon advice from public health experts. On that same day Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of NPHET Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said: “For the population at large, the growth rate is at zero and the transmission of the virus is effectively suppressed.”
Breifne College pupil Conor Smith (pictured below) suspects that the July 29 date remains aspirational rather than set in stone. Just as public health advice is determining the exam schedule, if that advice alters then so will the exams.
He suggests any loosening of restrictions in the coming weeks could see a “resurgence in cases” and thus, “leaving us Leaving Cert students in the same predicament that we are in right now.
“If you want us to do a traditional Leaving Cert, it’s not really a question of - if you want to put people at risk, more so, how many and when?”
Therefore he concludes that the exams are “very much still up in the air”.
It’s a view shared by St Aidan’s Comprehensive student, Amy Garland.
“We still don’t know,” said the Drung native. “The government don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks, so how can they know what’s going to happen in the next few months - whether this is going to calm down and we will get to sit or Leaving Certs or not?”
Amy has applied for primary school teaching in DCU, UCD and Maynooth through CAO. She happily reports to have been “blessed” to have received an unconditional offer, based on her projected grades, for Howth, Liverpool through the UCAS system.
However, out of concern for the mental health of Leaving Cert students, Amy penned a letter to Minister McHugh urging him to adopt a system akin to that implemented in the North. It was posted to the minister on April 11 and no response from the minister’s office, which she finds “shocking”.
“Everything else has been put off all over summer - there’s concerts that have been put off, there’s camps that have been put off and still our Leaving Cert is said to be going ahead, which I think is just ridiculous.”
A-Level students across the Border have been awarded grades based on their projected grades.
The Celt puts it to Amy that many students only knuckle down just ahead of the Leaving Cert, and may expect to do better than predicted.
“If the predicted grades are not what you would like, for the northern system I believe there is the option of doing exams in Autumn if possible - so you still have that option,” she explains.
Conor, meanwhile, whose number one CAO choice is for Multimedia in DCU, observes that the protracted school year will be “incredibly demoralising” for many.
“We’re going to be sitting these exams and by then we’re going to be saying ‘We have been at this for a twelve month working year’.”
The Celt asks Amy if it’s 50-50 that the Leaving Cert will be held?
“I think it’s more 60-40 towards not going ahead - everything else is cancelled so how can the Leaving Cert go ahead? Also, we’re in such small classrooms or areas when we’re doing exams so people are going to be on top of each other as it is.”