Almost half of leaving certificate students want the exams cancelled

Sally Madden

While almost half of Leaving Cert students want their exams cancelled, it is becoming increasingly likely that the Leaving Cert will be rescheduled for later in the summer.

A survey carried out by the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union on 46,000 students found that 49 per cent of students’ preferred solution would be to cancel exams and for predicted grades, along with coursework to be used to determine their final grade.

While using predicted grades to determine final grades, as has been done in the UK, is popular among students. Education sources say such a scenario is unlikely here as there is less cultural acceptance of teacher-assessed grades. This also emerged as a major flashpoint with teachers’ unions in the past.

It has been made clear that there is a strong preference for the Leaving Cert to go ahead as normal in June. It is expected that a decision will be made in the next fortnight, regarding contingency plans for the exams, should it be impossible to hold them in the regular fashion.

However, according to senior officials, the idea of deferring exams to later in the summer and having students start college as late as October of November is being “seriously examined”.

These officials have emphasised that discussions are still at an early stage.

Leo Varadkar has urged students to continue their studies, but Leaving Cert student at Coláiste De Lacy Ashbourne, Rose Norton says that the uncertainty is affecting her ability to motivate herself.

“I, and a lot of my friends, find it hard to study outside of school. I’ve lost focus because I don’t even know what I’m working towards,” she said.

“There isn’t one subject in which I’ve finished the course. We’re expected to get the course finished on our own, with no teachers. It’s incredibly difficult. When you’re trying to teach yourself the course studying what you already know takes a backseat,” she added.

“I just feel like the mental health of students isn’t being made a priority,” she concluded.

As of now, it seems clear that the holding the Leaving Cert is being prioritised over the Junior Cert, making it likely that the Junior Cert will be cancelled or deferred.

Sally Madden

Image Credit: ISSU