January 25, 2021
Taoiseach’s comments on schools make Leaving Cert decision even more urgent – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that the comments of the Taoiseach suggesting that schools may not return in full until St. Patrick’s Day has made decisions surrounding the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert even more urgent. 

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said

“It is also now abundantly clear that we need urgent decisions on the Leaving Cert and the Junior Cert.

“The Taoiseach’s statement over the weekend that schools may not return in full until St. Patrick’s Day has heaped even more pressure and more uncertainty on students.

“They are stressed, they are worried and they do not know when they will get a chance to return to school.

“The Minister for Education keeps talking about a traditional Leaving Cert. She needs to recognise that this is not a traditional year.

“There has to be recognition of that, and we have to listen to what students – including the ISSU – are saying.

“In Sinn Féin’s view, Leaving Cert students deserve a choice between an alternative and exams; if they can be held in the summer. But for that to happen, the Minister makes a decision now.

“She needs to set out a plan now to ensure that we don’t see a repeat of last year’s fiasco. If calculated grades are going to be used, then there are fairer ways of checking the accuracy of these grades than the use of algorithms or standardisation or school profiling. We should not be using these methods.

“Many students will, however, want to sit Leaving Cert exams – if they can be facilitated – and I believe that the Department of Education should seek to ensure that as many students as possible have that choice. 

“Alongside the process of offering choice with regards the Leaving Cert, we need to maximise access to third-level and the work to increase the number of college places and apprenticeships available in the Autumn needs to commence with urgency. That cannot be left to the last minute like last year.

“Given it now seems likely that Leaving Cert and Junior Cert students will miss even more class time and completing their courses will be even more challenging, this is even more essential.”

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