Leaving Certificate exams are postponed until late summer

Katie Lowry

The 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations have been postponed to late July or early August due to Covid-19, the Minister for Education has announced.

The Junior Certificate which is also set to begin in June has been cancelled altogether and replaced with school- based exams and assessments which will take place at the start of the new school year.

The Minister for Education Joe McHugh said, “Asking Leaving Certificate students and their families to refocus their attention from June to August is not something we do lightly. I know it will not be easy.”

This decision follows a meeting between both the Department of Education and the National Public Health Emergency Team which took place on Friday.

“All decisions we are taking in relation to rescheduling exams are based on current public health advice and put the best interests of students first. The welfare of students and that of their families is front and center in all decision making” said Minister McHugh.

Many students were to complete practical exams in May which have also been postponed until late July or early August. The new Leaving Cert exam timetable will be updated, confirmed and released in early June.

Schools remain closed until further notice in line with the current public health advice. The final arrangements for the exams, the exam centres, social distancing and other measures will all be determined by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) on foot of public health advice in June.

It is hopeful that the Leaving Cert students will be allowed into school for at least two weeks in July before they begin their exams, subject to public health advice.

These changes will affect thousands of students who will progress to third level education, who will now have to begin their new courses later than expected.

A survey carried out by the Irish Second Level Students Union indicated rescheduling the exams for July or August was the least popular option among secondary school students with only 19 per cent of votes.

49 per cent of students wanted the exams cancelled and to use course work which has already been completed to decide their grades.

Jessica Whelan, a 6th year student in Newpark Comprehensive School said she was initially really disheartened as she was looking forward to having her exams over and done with in June and having the Summer to relax.

“But, I understand that postponement seemed to be the most viable option. These are the cards that we have been dealt and the decisions made are out of my control, so I am just getting on with things to the best of my ability.”

Katie Lowry

Image Credit: PA