Leaving Cert students to be given clarity on exams on Tuesday

Leaving Cert students to be given clarity on exams on Tuesday

Members of the Cabinet sub-committee on education are meeting on Monday to discuss options regarding the Leaving Certificate.

Leaving Certificate students and their families should be given further clarity on Tuesday on how Leaving Certificate exams will be held this year, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

Members of the Cabinet sub-committee on education are meeting on Monday to discuss options regarding the Leaving Certificate.

The options under discussion are: 

  • A hybrid calculated grade and written exam
  • A pure calculated grade model
  • One which is based on more open access to further and higher education, which would see more college places made available

Sources have told the Irish Examiner that this model would mitigate any risk of inflated grades.

The sub-committee will make recommendations which can go to Tuesday's Cabinet meeting. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the "preferred option" was the hybrid model.

The country's two second-level teaching unions have said Leaving Cert exams still remain the “fairest option” for 2021, albeit with changes to make up for students’ lost class time according to the country’s two second-level teachers’ unions.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) have both reiterated their preferences for holding the 2021 exams, including the components like orals, practicals, and projects.

The TUI is of the “strong view” that the fairest, most equitable option remains to hold a “suitably modified” and adapted Leaving Cert exams.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) has also reiterated its support for the traditional exams, but with changes to the exam papers.

Mr Coveney said Education Minister Norma Foley is expected to bring a number of recommendations to Government on Tuesday.

He told RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne programme: "I've spoken to many, many families who want certainty around the exams.

We did learn lessons from last year that we have got to give as much time as possible and as much certainty as possible for students and their families to prepare for exams or some alternative to that.

"That's why we are anxious to make decisions a lot earlier this year, so we can hopefully address the stress levels in people's homes linked to exams and future prospects for students going to college and so on.

"Hopefully we will be able to give some clarity on that tomorrow."

The Government has been facing mounting pressure to make a decision on whether to press ahead with the year's Leaving Cert in its usual format.

Last year's exams were replaced with predicated grades.

On Sunday, Professor Philip Nolan said the country was progressing towards a place where the phased reopening of education could be considered.

The head of Nphet's epidemiological modelling advisory group said Ireland could see a drop to 200-400 new cases of Covid-19 a day by the end of February.

"I think we can say given the huge progress that we have made as a community in suppressing the virus, we're now approaching a level of disease in the community where it would be safe to think about an appropriately phased, cautious reopening of education," Prof Nolan said.

Ministers are also discussing schools reopening and childcare on Monday.

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