Oral and practical components of Leaving Cert 'will start in next four weeks'

Education Minister Norma Foley to outline 'differences to the arrangements' in this year's Leaving Cert 'compared to last year' to Oireachtas Education Committee
Oral and practical components of Leaving Cert 'will start in next four weeks'

Education Minister Norma Foley is due to appear before the Oireachtas Education Committee on Tuesday afternoon. Picture Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

Oral and practical components of the Leaving Cert will start in the next four weeks, according to Education Minister Norma Foley.

Ms Foley is due to appear before the Oireachtas Education Committee on Tuesday afternoon with Minister of State Josepha Madigan on the return of schools during level 5 restrictions.

The minister's opening statement notes that regarding the Leaving Cert, "there are differences to the arrangements in 2021 when compared to last year." 

"Firstly, a full suite of examinations operated by the SEC will be run – starting with the oral and practical components in the coming four weeks – subject to prevailing public health advice," the statement reads.

The examinations, which students can choose to sit or opt for a calculated grade, will take place in line with their traditional June timetable, which has already been published.

The accredited grades system this year will be ultimately completed by the State Examinations Commission, with the department carrying out the preliminary stages of the work "pending necessary legislative amendments".

"I intend to bring proposals for relevant legislative amendments to Cabinet shortly and to seek to have the relevant provisions drafted as a priority," Ms Foley added.

"I will be seeking the assistance of this committee in ensuring the relevant Bill can progress through the required legislative stages as expeditiously as possible."

The work in ensuring that students can choose to sit an examination or avail of an accredited grade continues "intensively" within the Department of Education and the State Examinations Commission and will involve continued engagement with the education partners.

Further information

The minister added there would be significant further information and guidance issued to students and schools over the coming weeks.

Junior Minister with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan's statement details that the department has put in place a supplementary support scheme to provide for some home-based one-to-one support, "recognising the fact that pupils with additional needs can find it harder to engage in remote learning".

The supplementary programme for eligible pupils who are in 3rd to 6th class will be extended by a further two weeks (an additional 10 hours).

"In addition, schools have been asked to prioritise deployment of their SET [special education teaching] resources to facilitate the engagement of those pupils with SEN [special educational needs] who are in 3rd to 6th class," her statement reads.

"Finally, I am determined to ensure an enhanced summer programme for children with special educational needs in summer 2021 as successfully happened last year. This programme provided a strong foundation to support students in advance of their return to in-school learning in September 2020 following the long summer break. 

"It also allowed schools and staff to identify and address educational regression in students so as to make the transition back to school easier for these students and their families."

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