Jess Casey: Move to cancel Junior Cert entirely was the right call to make

While it might have been an unintended consequence of a decision made during a crisis, it would have been inherently cruel to have exams dangling over the heads of young students throughout the summer.
Jess Casey: Move to cancel Junior Cert entirely was the right call to make

While it might have been an unintended consequence of a decision made during a crisis, it would have been inherently cruel to have exams dangling over the heads of young students throughout the summer.

Especially as they are currently dealing with a whole lot of other stress heaped on them now, thanks to the pandemic.

The reversing of the revised Junior Cert plans came following consultation with a working group, set up to look at each of the different issues with the 2020 State Exams. It also followed a quiet revolution among second-level.

While some schools had publicly announced their decision to forgo the September exams, others had held back, waiting for the official go-ahead after the Minister urged them last week to hang on.

Students will now be finished with the Junior Cycle by the end of May, a move that has been widely welcomed.

Holding the exams in the new school year would have been regressive educationally, according to the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI).

Meanwhile, the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) believed that sitting exams that had no credible status would have put unnecessary stress on students.

The clarity on the Junior Cert has been also welcomed by principals. That is according to Clive Byrne, the director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD).

"To their credit, the Department of Education has clearly listened to the feedback and concerns voiced by school leaders, teachers and students."

The decision means students can look forward to going back without the burden of unfinished exams, he added.

What does this all mean for students? The Junior Cert exams as we know them have officially been cancelled, and they will not be re-arranged for the new school year.

Specific arrangements will be put in place for adult learners by the State Examinations Commission to give them an opportunity to take their final exams in autumn 2020.

Schools have autonomy now to decide how best to assess their students on their three years of study; They are free to assess their students based on their work up until March 12 when schools closed.

If they wish, schools can also arrange their own additional assessments, to be carried out by the end of this term.

Some examples cited by the department include exams designed by the school, tasks, projects, essays or presentations.

Students will also receive two certificates; One formal certificate from the State recognising the completion of their Junior Cycle education.

It will include a list of the subjects studied. Separately, they will also receive a certificate from their school, listing their achievement in each subject.

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