Department Needs to Move to Assessed Grade Model for Leaving Cert

27 January 2021

As the Minister meets with her officials today to discuss the next steps for the Leaving Cert class of 2021, Labour spokesperson on education, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, has called for an assessed grade model to be offered to all Leaving Cert and Junior Cycle students.

With the Government unable to reveal its plan for the return of in-class tuition for this cohort of students, assessed grades are the only realistic option for this year. Labour believes that this also opens the question for a full review of the Leaving Cert in its current form.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“It’s time to make a decision and give parents and students across the country some certainty regarding this year’s exams. The reality is, the class of 2021 have missed 14 weeks and counting of in-class tuition. They continue to experience massive disruption to their education, and with schools covering the curriculum in different stages, the Labour Party is calling for assessed grades for this year’s Leaving Cert.

“The clock continues to count down for these students. A decision must be taken by the Minister to offer assessed grades in practical subjects and oral examinations at this stage. Given the rate of community transmission of the virus, and without a timescale on the return to schools, these exams must be cancelled. However, as the country stays in strict Level 5 lockdown and as the vaccine continues to be rolled out, we can work towards facilitating written exams for those students who would prefer this option over the summer, and possibilities in this regard must be explored by the Minister and her Department.

“Students are watching the Minister closely on this. I understand that this is not an easy decision to make, but there are clear differences between this year and last year. Obtaining the data required will be a challenge as there’s less in-class assessment available for this cohort of students. But ultimately clarity for students is what’s required. They missed 11 weeks of in-class tuition last year and are uncertain about return date this year. Every jurisdiction on these islands has done it, our colleagues across Europe have done it.

“There are a number of challenges that come with this decision. Crucial in all of this is that students are engaged in school life until summer. School plays such a fundamental role in society, and teachers throughout the country are working hard to facilitate virtual learning in the most difficult of circumstances. The class of 2021 should be looking forward to reaching the milestone of the Leaving Cert, but instead they are anxious and stressed.

“I do not make this call lightly, but students need certainty. The Labour Party has engaged with parents, students and teachers throughout the country to find a solution for the class of 2021. I’m calling on the Minister to consider Labour’s proposals and listen to these students. Like her predecessor, the Minister has totally mishandled this issue to date. The delays and failure to communicate clearly have already failed this year’s exam 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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