Leaving Cert results may not issue until early September - Norma Foley

Delay set to result in later college start and last-minute scramble for college accommodation

The 'best estimate' for the release of the 2023 Leaving Cert results is early September, Minister for Education Norma Foley has said. Photograph: Alan Betson

The “best estimate” for the release of the 2023 Leaving Certificate results is early September, Minister for Education Norma Foley has said.

While Leaving Certificate results are traditionally issued in mid-August, they have been released in September over recent years due to Covid-related factors.

This has led to delays for first-year students starting college and a last-minute scramble for college accommodation.

Responding to a question from Labour’s education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin at an Oireachtas education committee on Wednesday evening about the probable Leaving Cert results date, Ms Foley said the best estimate provided by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) is last year’s date, which was early September.

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A key reason for the delay in last year’s results was the need to hold a second set of exams in July for hundreds of students affected by Covid or bereavement.

In addition, authorities faced a shortage of examiners and additional postmarking work to meet a Government commitment that the 2022 results would be lower than the previous year’s results.

Ms Foley said she was conscious of demands placed on the State Examinations Commission in recruiting examiners this year and said it was the “right decision” to have another second sitting of the Leaving Cert in July.

“I have engaged with the SEC. Their best estimate is the date that was achieved last year. I continue to engage with them. They are currently reviewing the structures of last year, in particular the availability of correctors which obviously is essential to the process,” she said.

“A considerable body of work has been done in that regard. They are currently recruiting in terms of the oral, and that is going reasonable well, quite well. The SEC will be doing all they can to ensure the result – maintaining the integrity of the exam – will be issued as soon as possible.

“At this stage, I don’t think it’s possible to give a date, that is a matter for the SEC. I have engaged directly with them on it.”

Responding to the comments, Mr Ó Ríordáin said he was disappointed that results look set to be delayed once again.

“Lessons haven’t been learned and we’re setting students up for the same amount of stress in 2023 as was evident in 2022,” he said.

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Sinn Féin’s higher education spokeswoman, Rose Conway Walsh, was also critical of the news which she said would bring extra pressure to bear on students which they did not need.

Research undertaken by academics at Trinity College Dublin for the State Examinations Commission has found that it is unusual to provide deferred exams for candidates in large-scale exams in other jurisdictions.

Instead, most countries which run end-of-school exams tend to provide predicted grades or other forms of special consideration for candidates who miss them for health or bereavement reasons

The option of providing predicted grades instead of deferred exams for Leaving Cert students was one of a number of options which had been under review by education authorities in a bid to speed up the delivery of results.

However, the higher education sector was told recently that a second set of exams looked likely, with a consequent delay in Leaving Cert results.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent