Covid-19: Survey shows just 15% of Leaving Cert students want exams to go ahead

Survey of 24,000 sixth years says 79% want exams to be replaced with predicted grades

Some 79 per cent of students want the exams to be cancelled and replaced with predicted or estimated grades. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

A new survey shows an overwhelming majority of Leaving Cert students want the exams to be cancelled and replaced with estimated grades.

A new survey of 24,000 sixth years by the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union conducted in recent days shows just 15 per cent want the exams to go ahead on July 29th.

By contrast, some 79 per cent want the exams to be cancelled and replaced with predicted or estimated grades.

The survey size represents a sample of almost 39 per cent of all Leaving Cert students.


Students were also asked to show how satisfied or dissatisfied they felt on a scale of one to 10 with the option of continuing with the exams or cancelling them.

An average of three out of 10 was recorded for going ahead with the exams, while there was an average of 8 out of 10 for replacing them with a predicted grade model.

Ciara Fanning, the union's president, said the union will continue to advocate for and represent the interests of second-level students through its involvement in regular Department of Education meetings.

“This survey reinforces our mandate for clarification now - particularly as an increasing number of students are now in favour of cancellation and a thoughtful process established to ensure fairness and equity to all,” she said.

“Now is not the time for tradition, we need cohesive innovation among all stakeholders. This is not a political issue.”

She said the union was particularly concerned about the mental health and anxiety issues brought to its attention by students in “overwhelming” numbers.

The lack of a reference to the Leaving Cert exams in the Government’s roadmap for reopening society published on Friday prompted fresh uncertainty at the weekend over whether they would go ahead.

A department spokesman said this roadmap was a general guide rather than a detailed plan and no significance should be read into the fact that the exams were not referenced.

In all, the union received more than 28,000 responses, including those from teachers, parents and students in other school years After these were removed and all results analysed, almost 23,694 were deemed valid.

Meanwhile, a planning meeting over the future of the Leaving Cert exams concluded on Wednesday without a decision on whether a “plan B” should go ahead instead.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh attended the meeting with with parents, teachers, school managers and students over plans to hold the Leaving Cert at the end of July.

In a statement following the meeting, Mr McHugh said: “I want to thank the members of the group for their ongoing engagement and support for the work on hand.

“Discussions here today will assist in making decisions regarding arrangements for the Leaving Certificate that have students’ best interests at heart and that are guided at all times by the public health advice.”

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