February 18, 2021
Key questions over Leaving Cert remain – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has said that while further clarity on the Leaving Cert is welcome, many issues must be addressed in order to ensure maximum fairness for students.

He was speaking following a meeting with the Minister for Education and other opposition spokespersons this afternoon.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“Students fought for clarity, and for choice. Sinn Féin have been clear that choice had to be at the heart of a fair Leaving Cert. 

“We welcome the fact that the Government listened in the end after much campaigning and pressure and there will now be a choice between calculated or ‘accredited’ grades and the written leaving cert.

“However, while this is welcome, it is clear that substantial issues remain which need to be resolved. In order for students to have a real choice, they should be able to get their calculated grade before the exam. This would enable them to make an informed decision on whether or not to sit the exam, based on their calculated grade.

“This would be the fairest approach and avoid unnecessary stress for students. The Department has said this wasn’t desirable or possible, however this isn’t good enough. This option should still be explored.

“We also need a clear distinction marking when the period of estimation ends, so students know when that part is done and that those studying for written exams are given a clear run to study.

“I welcome school profiling has been ruled out, along with class rankings. However if there is going to be standardisation we need to ensure lessons are learned from last year. A key element of this is that the algorithm needs to be published at an early stage to ensure public scrutiny can establish any flaws.

“Other issues we need to learn from last year, include ensuring a more substantive appeal process, as well as a clear plan for out-of-school learners.

“I note the concerns expressed by the unions and I hope that this can be resolved and addressed by dialogue. I know that teachers are anxious to support students and ensure they progress in their education, so yesterday must be treated as a baseline for students and clarifications must be given the interest of students.

“While yesterday’s announcement brought much-needed clarity, many questions must be answered. The education and wellbeing of students must be at the very heart of this decision making process.”

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