Bereaved students should have second chance to sit Leaving Cert

ASTI conference supports motion calling for students to be given opportunity to repeat exams in summer or autumn

The Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) passed a motion at its annual conference calling on the Department of Education to arrange a second set of exams in the summer or autumn. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

The Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) passed a motion at its annual conference calling on the Department of Education to arrange a second set of exams in the summer or autumn. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

 

Any pupils bereaved by the death of a close family member or who becomes seriously ill close to the time of the State exams should be given the chance to sit repeat exams, secondary teachers have urged.

The Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) passed a motion at its annual conference calling on the Department of Education to arrange a second set of exams in the summer or autumn.

James Howley, a member of the union’s East Mayo branch, said a very small number of students – typically six or so – experience the stress of the death of a parent, brother or sister during their exams.

Additionally, another small group of students may experience a major physical trauma or mental crisis.

“For Leaving Cert students, the prospect of having to repeat a full year and re-sit their entire exams the following June, on the anniversary of the death of a close family member seems very harsh,” Mr Howley said.

“Prescribed texts may have changed in the meantime, entirely new projects and orals tests would have to be done all over again and in some cases the entire syllabus may have changed.”

Same day as funeral

He said the additional costs of books, school uniform and exam fees must also be kept in mind and, in some cases, repeating the year at the student’s own school may not be an option.

While students in crisis are permitted to sit the exams at a special examination centre or at another time, this must be done on the same day as the other candidates. Mr Howley said this ignored the fact that a student may have two examinations on the same day of a funeral.

“I know of one girl in my own locality who had to sit her Leaving Cert English paper at 8am and afterwards attend her own mother’s funeral.”

The union’s annual conference in Killarney passed the motion overwhelmingly.