Speculation mounts Leaving Cert to be called off

Speculation mounts Leaving Cert to be called off

There is mounting speculation that the Department of Education and Skills will scrap plans to hold the Leaving Cert this year. Minister Joe McHugh will discuss the issue with his cabinet colleagues this morning, and will outline an alternative plan.  

The recommendation reportedly involves teachers providing predictive grades for pupils with consideration given to previous exam results and coursework completed to date - with principals overseeing the grading. The aggregate grades for the school class will be expected to fit with previous performances; and in turn the grades across the State will be expected to correlate with previous years.

Although Minister McHugh had previously insisted that the Leaving Certs would commence on July 29, uncertainty remained considering the statement was made before the Government roadmap for easing restictions was outlined. Amy Garland, a Leaving Cert student from St Aidan's Comprehensive even wrote the minister a letter explaining how the confusion and stress was damaging the mental health of students. At that stage the Drung teenager put the chances of the exams going ahead at 60:40 against.

A poll held by The Anglo-Celt showed 48.9% in favour of scraping this year's Leaving Cert; 40.5% in favour of holding the exams; and 10.7% in favour of letting students decide if they do the exam or not.

It has been suggested that the alternative plan expected to be outlined by Minister McHugh today will have an option for students to sit Leaving Certs at a later date if they wish, but those grades will not be provided in time for universities to use in basing decisions on admissions for third level courses. 

Today's expected development follows a meeting Minister McHugh held on Wednesday with a range of stakeholders as part of planning in relation to the State Examinations during the Covid-19 response. The advisory group of stakeholders includes representatives of students, parents, teachers, school leadership and management bodies, the State Examinations Commission, the National Educational Psychological Service, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the Department.

The group continued its discussions on the practicalities of holding the Leaving Certificate examinations, given the constraints of social distancing and other measures that may be required, based on the available medical advice. The group also discussed alternative assessment models.

Minister McHugh said on Wednesday: “Discussions here today will assist in making decisions regarding arrangements for the Leaving Certificate that have students’ best interests at heart and that are guided at all times by the public health advice.”

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