November 26, 2020
Minister must clarify Leaving Cert contingency plans and ease pressures on students – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

DonnchadhSinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called on government to urgently provide sixth year students with clarity with regards contingency plans for Leaving Certificate examinations this year. 

Speaking today after addressing the issue with student and parent groups at the Oireachtas Education Committee, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“Sixth year students deserve to know the plans in place for their Leaving Cert. I am hearing many reports from students that they are having to deal with constant assessment in their classes.

“Many are concerned that results of these class tests will end up contributing to their final Leaving Cert grade as there has been no guidance from the Department of Education either way. 

“Over-assessment is becoming a huge issue. Students, who are trying to undertake the marathon that is Leaving Cert year, must sprint the whole way due to weekly and monthly testing. This is just not sustainable – the stress is unbearable.

“Contingency plans are essential so that students can plan their studies accordingly. From my conversations with them, it is apparent that this contingency must be premised on ensuring that the overwhelming desire for a written exam is made clear.

“It is also clear that, regardless of what the contingency plans announced are, calculated grades must be taken off the table.

“Calculated grading did not work. We do not need to repeat it.

“There must be contingencies in place as a case will inevitably arise where a student is self-isolating on the day of an exam or an oral. Students should not be left with the fear that if they are unwell, they will miss the opportunity to take their Leaving Cert, and the anxiety that this would bring.

“One change that can be made is to allow for even greater choice on the exam papers. Some welcome moves have been made in this regard. But more can be done to take account of the loss of learning experienced by sixth years when schools were closed.

“We do not know exactly what will happen next year, and we can’t foresee what the Covid situation will look like. But the government must look at the mistakes made this year, and make sure they are never again repeated.

“Leaving Cert students need to know the plan, and they need to know now. It is the least they deserve after the extremely difficult year they have experienced.”

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