January 27, 2021
Junior Cert students must not be forgotten – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called on the Minister for Education to provide much needed clarity to Junior Cert students on how they will receive their qualifications this year.

Having expressed his concerns that Junior Cert students are being left out of the Minister’s discussions, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“The past 12 months have been enormously difficult for all school students. The focus in recent weeks has been on the Leaving Certificate classes, but we must not forget that Junior Cert students are also worried, and deserve certainty and clarity on what their assessment will look like this year.

“Junior Cert students have lost significant time last year and this year again, and it is at this point unclear when they will be back in the classroom.

“I have spoken to many Junior Cert students and their families, who have told me that not knowing what is happening is putting huge pressure on them and their classmates, and impacting their mental health.

“While I recognise that the Leaving Certificate is an extremely important qualification and those students must be prioritised, this should not come at the expense of certainty for Junior Cert students, who have equally been left in the lurch by the Minister and the Department of Education.

“The reality is, that there are serious questions over the feasibility of traditional Junior Cert examinations at the end of this year. It is clear that it is unlikely that these exams will go ahead. The Minister must accept this reality, and urgently put in place a contingency plan for these students.

“Sinn Féin are calling for in-class solutions such as continuous assessment, to allow students to receive their qualification, whilst also taking into account the learning time lost.

“I recognise some were concerned about the fairness of last year’s process; the Minister must examine introducing external checks to counter that this year.

This has been an extraordinary 12 months for these students. The Junior Certificate is an important milestone in a student’s life, indeed for some early school leavers it is the qualification they will leave education with.

“The Minister must make a decision quickly on this, to give clarity to students and let them know clearly what the plan is. Leaving Junior Cert students out of the conversation is simply not fair.”

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