Leo Varadkar insists that state exams will go ahead in June

Jamie McCarron

Leo Varadkar announced on Wednesday that Junior and Leaving Certificate exams will go ahead in June, as previously planned.

The Taoiseach said that the Government did not want secondary school students “losing a year” of their lives, at a government press briefing yesterday evening.

Varadkar also stated that the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, and the State Examinations Commission are drawing up plans for exams to take place in June “by hook or by crook”.

According to the Taoiseach  the government is keen to avoid the “problems that would follow” if there were not incoming first year students in colleges in autumn, and Varadkar urged the 126,000 students due to sit exams to continue studying.

This is despite the fact that an online survey of 47,000 students by the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU), found that 49 per cent of Leaving Cert students are in favour of cancelling the June exams.

They instead propose an assessment on already-completed coursework and grade predictions from teachers to decide their final grades, which has been implemented in the UK in place of A Level exams.

Only 26 per cent of students surveyed were in favour of the government’s plan to continue exams in June while the same survey found that 77 per cent of Junior Certificate students want their exams cancelled.

A Change.org petition which is seeking to introduce the predicted grade system for these exams currently has 9,600 signatures.

One commenter on the site wrote “our mental health, our physical health and our families mean the world to us. A piece of paper will never ever determine the intelligence and potential we as a generation have.”

During yesterday’s briefing the Taoiseach also announced that a further 13 people had died from coronavirus and that the worst of the coronavirus surge was yet to come despite “real progress in flattening the curve”.

He also predicted that another recession was imminent, “not just in Ireland but it looks like a world recession.”

Jamie McCarron