Exams body confident it will have enough teachers to correct work

Junior and Leaving Cert gets under way for more than 120,000 students

About 3,750 examiners are needed to mark written exams this year

The State Examinations Commission says it is confident it will have sufficient examiners to mark Junior and Leaving Cert papers as exams get under way for more than 120,000 students.

The commission last week issued an “urgent appeal” for teachers to mark this year’s exams due to a shortage of qualified staff across key subjects.

It said the number of available reserve examiners was “very tight” in all subjects and it is expected that almost all examiners currently on the reserve list will be required this summer.

The commission said it was pleased with the response to its appeal but that further applications are welcome. About 3,750 examiners are needed to mark written exams this year.


All newly-qualified and retired teachers have been asked to apply for the position of examiner in all subjects for both the Junior and Leaving Cert exams. The commission says it will appoint examiners right up to the start of the marking conferences in June, and occasionally afterwards, in order to fill vacancies and in response to examiners dropping out.

The subjects where there are particular needs at present include Spanish, German and Italian at both Junior and Leaving Cert level. In addition, there is a shortage of examiners for Leaving Cert business, and Junior Cert home economics, CSPE and religious education.

Government Ministers and education groups have wished students the best ahead of the start of the exams.

One pathway

Minister for Education Richard Bruton emphasised that while the exams were important, they were just one pathway in education.

“A range of opportunities now exist which will help students to fulfil their ambitions,” he said. “In addition to higher and further education there are many alternative routes to rewarding careers now available.”

Mr Bruton also noted that the junior cycle English paper would be the first subject taken under reforms to the old Junior Cert. Students have already completed work accounting for 10 per cent of their marks in English.

Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, said it was important that students keep things in perspective during this stressful period.

“The Leaving Cert is just one set of exams and although important, is a stepping stone to what you want in life,” he said.

“Being in the best possible mental and physical condition is key. Remain calm and focused: you’ve done all you can.

“Eat well, take regular breaks and understand that it’s completely normal to feel a certain level of anxiety. Allow extra time too in the morning to get to school early, as you don’t want to be rushed.”

John Halligan, Minister of State at the Department of Education, emphasised that family and friends were there to support students over the next few weeks.

“To parents, I would say reassure your child that the examination system is not designed to catch them out and that every question asked is something which they have covered with their teachers over the past two or three years,” he said.

“And remind them that there is a variety of course options open to all students which can ultimately bring them to their desired career area.”

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