Labour calls for certainty on Leaving and Junior Cert exams

13 March 2020

Labour Party Education spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has urged the Government to act swiftly to clarify arrangements for practical and oral Leaving Cert exams in light of the Covid-19 public health crisis.

The Dublin Bay North TD also called for an early decision on the possible postponement or cancellation of Junior Cert exams – and the protection of children’s educational record and progress if this becomes necessary.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin called on Education minister Joe McHugh to convene an urgent meeting of education spokespeople from all political parties, and to engage with parent, student and staff representatives to protect the interests of students.

“The health and safety of students and the wider public is everyone’s priority at this time. While the focus is correctly on the containment of the Covid-19 virus, we also have to mind students’ mental health at an extremely stressful point in their lives. That requires certainty.

“I’m proposing that Minister McHugh immediately convenes a meeting of all education spokespeople, and works with education stakeholders to bring the greatest possible clarity to students and their parents and guardians.

“In the meantime, we need urgent measures to ensure that all Leaving Cert students and their parents – regardless of their circumstances – continue to receive the high-quality educational and study supports as they prepare for their exams.

“We need to allay students’ concerns about the impact on exams at this already-stressful time. And we need urgent measures to ensure that working parents are supported if they are unable to work because of unexpected childcare commitments.

“These are unprecedented circumstances, and the Minister and his cabinet colleagues must reach out to ensure that the best possible outcomes are available to students and the entire school community, including school secretaries, caretakers and SNAs,” he said.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin also called for partnership with education unions over the impact the closure of schools and colleges on staff. “The Government is to be commended for acting swiftly to agree that teachers and SNAs will be paid as usual in the event of school closures. We need confirmation that these protections will extend to the whole school community, including secretaries and caretakers,” he said,

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