February 5, 2021
Students still waiting for clarity but campaign for choice clearly having an impact – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that today’s statement from the Minister still leaves students in the dark, but that it hopefully represents a move towards choice.

Teachta Ó Laoaghaire said:

“Tonight’s statement from the Minister still leaves students in the dark. They are still stressed and worried about what kind of exam or process they will face – likewise are school staff.

“Having said that, it seems clear that the Minister is now considering the kind of Leaving Cert choice that Sinn Féin has proposed, and indeed that thousands of 6th year students have campaigned passionately for.

“There has a been a lot of talk of a ‘traditional’ Leaving Certificate, but this is not a traditional year. Having only a written exam is not feasible this year given the significant loss of learning time experienced, and the fact that we still don’t have clarity. 

“I am keen to see the detail of the outcome of these negotiations – what will the corresponding non-examination process entail, and how will students’ grades be arrived at?

“We must ensure that lessons are learned from last year, such as unfair algorithms or school profiling that was once proposed. There must be fairer ways of checking accuracy.

“I am anxious also, to ensure that the approach is fair to school staff, and to preserving the relationship that they have with their students.

“Again, I would reiterate the importance that any choice provided must be done on a no-detriment basis, so that students can avail of the better mark of the two in their CAO.

“Students have endured a very challenging and stressful two years. They are tonight still worried and anxious. Today’s announcement will not yet bring relief to them. However I hope that this is the light at the end of the tunnel. This is just the first step of many to securing the choice that students want to see.

“We also must not forget that Junior Cert students are also worried, and deserve certainty and clarity on what their assessment will look like this year. They have also lost enormous amounts of time and deserve an alternative. 

“We all know it is unlikely a written exam will proceed in the normal way, and they deserve relief from their stress also.

“I will keenly engage with the Minister, and with all stakeholders, to ensure that students are afforded clarity and fairness in their Leaving Cert & Junior Cert this year.

“Sinn Féin will continue to work hard to ensure students’ voices are heard in this process.”

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