Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has spoken with the Department of Education to get clarification regarding their announcement that Junior and Leaving Cert Oral Examinations will not proceed as planned.
Speaking this afternoon, Teachta Ó Laoghaire outlined the intricacies of his conversation and the information he received;
“I spoke with the Department of Education earlier today and my understanding is that the first set of practical and oral tests due for examination over the next two weeks have been cancelled and students will receive full marks for these.
“This does not mean all practical examinations and project work has been cancelled. All exams and project work due from the 20th March to the 24th April has been pushed out to the 15th May.
“Regarding the main exams on the 3rd June, the State Examinations Commission and Department are discussing potential options and no decision has been made in this regard yet. The State Examinations Commission is sending guidance to schools in the coming days which they can disseminate to students.
“I emphasised to the Department the need to provide clarity for students, their families and for teachers. It is already an extremely anxious time, without this uncertainty hanging over them. I emphasised the need for a date by which students can know whether exams are likely to proceed or not.
“While it is an evolving situation, and the advice of public health authorities must guide us, uncertainty cannot continue indefinitely and there should be a date that students can look to for a decision.
“I also told the Department that many subjects, for example Construction Studies, have project work which cannot be undertaken at home and that these students are very concerned. These projects are time consuming and require specific equipment. These students need certainty.
“Every effort to hold exams should be made; provided it is safe to do so for students, teachers and invigilators but public health must be priority.
“I also believe that there is a need for the Department and schools to give direction to students on how they can access counselling supports. I’m sure we can all joke about how great it is that exams are being cancelled but the reality is this uncertainty is very stressful for many.”