Certainty needed for Leaving Cert students

06 May 2020

Labour Education spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, has criticised the Minister for Education for again failing to give certainty to Leaving Cert students.

It comes as the sixth meeting of the stakeholder advisory group concluded today with no further details provided to the public on this year’s exam.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“It’s unacceptable that another meeting has concluded of the stakeholder group on the Leaving Cert and we are still none the wiser as to the final details of this year’s exam.

“I appreciate that this is not an easy decision, but it is now nearly eight weeks to the day since schools across Ireland were closed, and this awful uncertainty and lack of clarity for students and parents continues.

“It is also extremely disappointing that the Minister has only met with cross party colleagues on this important issue once in the last two months.

“On balance, the Leaving Certificate should go ahead as planned, but we also need to urgently see a Plan B if this is not possible. Options for this include using fewer exam results to calculate students’ points, such as from four subjects.

“Introducing a new system entirely based on predictive grading would not satisfy the Minister’s obligation under law to hold a state examination of secondary school students, but predictive grading could be part of the solution for students who cannot attend exams – for medical or other reasons – but the Minister needs to be clear with people of the limits of that system.

“For example, if the Minister is planning on using predictive grading, he needs to outline how he will deal with the potential for bias when teachers are marking their own students.

“In all of this, it is vitally important that a Leaving Certificate is awarded to every student leaving secondary school this year.

“Thousands of young people will not go on to third level, and the Leaving Certificate will be their only formal qualification. We must prevent a scenario that would see some going to college based on predictive grading, but others going into the workplace with no qualification whatsoever.

“The existing Leaving Certificate system is not fit for purpose, but any emergency changes must bear in mind how seriously this could affect young people’s lives and their future opportunities, especially those who will leave formal education after secondary school.

“The Minister’s delays and failure to communicate clearly have already failed this year’s cohort of students. The Government must make a decision now and stop the agony of uncertainty that is causing untold stress for tens of thousands of young people.”

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