Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has sent his best wishes and congratulations to the Leaving Cert class of 2020.
“I want to congratulate the Leaving Cert class of 2020 and to wish them all the best today and in the coming year.
“The Leaving Cert is always difficult, but no previous year has had to contend with a pandemic and the resulting uncertainty that the postponement and cancellation of exams has caused. It has been extraordinarily difficult and has resulted in enormous anxiety and stress. However, this year’s class have shown incredible resolve and resilience.
“They have also shown a great ability to stand up for themselves and I would like to congratulate the Irish Secondary Students Union for their remarkable advocacy throughout a very difficult year. They stood up when it counted most.
“I also want to commend teachers and school staff for supporting students, as well as Departmental staff who have worked to ensure this process was completed.
“Results day can be a proud day, and it can be a hard day. There will be students who will be disappointed. It is important to remember that there are so many ways, more than ever, to achieve the goal you want; there are many routes. I will be working with my colleague Rose Conway-Walsh TD to ensure that there are adequate supports for access to higher and further education on an ongoing basis.
“I want to draw attention to the helpline run by the National Parents Council Post-Primary and supported by ISSU, which is available at 1800 265 165.
“The controversy regarding school profiling has highlighted the fact that there is severe educational disadvantage in the system. This begins from an early age, but we fail to tackle it from primary right through to higher education. We now need to tackle just that.
“There are other issues that remain unresolved. I look forward to the publication of the algorithim and a better understanding of the standardisation model ahead of the allocation of CAO places and school grades being given to students.
“I greatly regret that the Department has failed to give grades to over 2,000 external candidates. I have highlighted this and feel a great injustice has been done to these students. This is a source of great regret. Some of these students will now miss out on courses they wanted, through no fault of their own.
“Finally, it is clear that there is a need to ensure that students who sat the Leaving Cert in 2019, or in previous years, can fairly access third-level places. They could not possibly have anticipated this situation of increased grades. Sinn Féin have written to the Minister offering three solutions to the situation and we have urged her to take action.
“We firmly believe that this can be resolved, and hope it will be. However, the government cannot prevaricate, and so far, no desire has been shown to fix it. Ministers Norma Foley and Simon Harris need to wake up to this problem and resolve it.”