Hybrid leaving cert the only realistic option – certainty needed now

17 January 2022

Following the publication of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) survey showing two-thirds of exam students support a hybrid model for state exams, Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the Minister and Department must commence planning to facilitate this. Speaking today, Deputy Ó Ríordáin said the engagement from students, teachers and the wider education community on this issue shows there is an opportunity to rethink the old examination system for future generations.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“I am calling on the Minister and Department to hear the concerns of students and commence preparations for a hybrid state examination model for 2022. We in the Labour Party have been campaigning on this issue for over a month and have received an overwhelming response from exam students.

“These students have experienced a huge amount of disruption over the last two years, with rolling school closures and huge changes in how they are taught how they learn. The loss of in person teaching in fifth year combined with the interruptions since September due to teachers not being available and the impact of substitutions has had an effect that cannot be ignored.

“It’s clear that there’s huge engagement from the wider education community on this issue, with many pointing to the successful roll out of the hybrid leaving cert in 2021 by the Department. We’ve done it before and we can do it again. It would be wrong-headed for the Minister to go back to ‘normal’ given that the education experience for students is still being negatively impacted by the pandemic.

“Until a clear decision is made, this issue will rumble on and on. The Labour Party is committed to keeping the pressure on the Minister on behalf of students and bringing certainty sooner rather than later. None of us want to be in this position, but it is only fair to give students clarity now, and ensure that for the next few months there is a defined path in place for Leaving Cert students.

“We continue to hear anecdotal evidence from higher education institutions that this year’s first years are performing much better than had been anticipated, given their experience of home studying. Institutions are highlighting the fundamental resilience of our young people to adapt to new ways of learning and engaging with material. In light of this, it’s time to have a conversation about our education system and reform how we assess our students.

“We need an education system that works for our young people; one that develops skills and pathways to a range of options for graduates from apprentices to PLCs to university. We must be guided by our young people in this process.”

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