Leaving Cert to proceed with "extensive changes" despite calls for hybrid model

Leaving Cert to proceed with "extensive changes" despite calls for hybrid model

THE LEAVING Certificate examinations are to continue in person as planned in June, taking into account "disruption to teaching and learning experienced" by the class of 2022, the Minister for Education has announced.

"Extensive" changes will be made to facilitate the exams to go ahead, and the junior cycle exams will run as normal for the first time since June 2019.

Such changes include the reduction in the number of questions that students are required to answer in certain subjects.

An alternative set of exams will run in 2022, shortly following the main set of exams. These exams will be limited to certain categories of students, such as those who experience a close family bereavement, Covid-19 illness and certain other categories of serious illness during the first examination period.

The Department of Education says there will be "strict eligibility criteria applying to this contingency sitting".

Junior cycle exams are to include a reduction in the number of classroom based assessments to be completed, the removal of the requirement to complete Assessment Tasks and adjustments to the requirements in coursework and practical performance tests.

Oral examinations for both junior and senior cycle will take place outside of school time in the first week of the school Easter holidays (9 April to 14 April).

Minister for Education Norma Foley has said that students wanted clarity and certainty, and that she has answered both of those concerns by making this announcement earlier than last year.

"Students also raised concerns over the potential disadvantage the class of 2022 would face when compared to the class of 2021 in terms of grade inflation," she said.

"To alleviate this concern, I have asked the SEC to put in place measures to ensure that the overall set of results in the aggregate for this year will be no lower than last year.

"The exams will be structured in a familiar way, but with more choice and a reduction in the number of questions to be answered this will not be the traditional Leaving Certificate exam."

Details of all changes to the examinations will be sent to schools next week.

Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who had been campaigning for a hybrid model for the exams, said the decision to revert to a more traditional examination format is a missed opportunity for the delivery of education in Ireland.

"There is huge disappointment and hurt from students throughout the country who have learned about the decision on this year’s leaving cert via media and social media," he said. "It is devastating for the many students who campaigned brilliantly over the last while for a hybrid approach to this year’s exams."

"Questions must be asked about the Department’s openness to innovation and changing the education system for the better. We continue to hear anecdotal evidence from the further and higher education institutions that students who took a hybrid exam last year are performing well and above average in some cases. Where is Minister Harris in this decision? Why is he not advocating for the class of 2022?"

Sinn Féin spokesperson for education also said the decision is a mistake.

"Levels of disruption vary hugely between different students, subjects & schools," he tweeted. "Additional choice on the papers does not level the playing field."

He said he will be debating the decision with Foley in the Dáil this evening.