Galway school opts out of this year’s Junior Cert exams

Coláiste Bhaile Chláir says students will be graded by teachers as tests in new term too stressful

A secondary school in Co Galway has become the first in the State to reject the proposal to hold the equivalent of the Junior Certificate in the next school year.

Coláiste Bhaile Chláir in Claregalway will instead allow its students to complete their work for the rest of the term and be graded by their teachers.

Though it only opened in 2013, Coláiste Bhaile Chláir, a multidenominational community college, is one of the largest secondary schools in the country with more than 1,000 pupils. It is under the patronage of the Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB).

On Friday, the Minister for Education Joe McHugh announced the cancellation of the Junior Certificate examinations, which were due to take place in June, because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Instead, he proposed that they be replaced by assessments and project work to be completed as school-based exams early in the next school year.

In a statement published on its website, the school said such an approach would create unnecessary stress for its students.

The school said the Junior Certificate is a milestone in a student’s education, but students have missed them before and it did not hinder their ability to sit the Leaving Certificate.

The school added: “We wish our students during this time of national emergency to focus on their health and wellbeing. We do not wish to see students over the summer months caught up inside preparing for exams, worrying about when they might go ahead, if they go ahead.

“What if all that time were spent wasted when they could have been outside playing, working and helping family and friends through this difficult time?

“We wish that upon our return to school in the new academic year that we all start afresh, renewed and re-invigorated.”

It added that many of the school’s teachers will be involved in the correction and monitoring of corrections for the Leaving Certificate examinations if they take place as planned in the late summer.

Instead, the school has proposed that students will complete assigned work for the remainder of the term and be awarded a grade by their teachers.

The grade will be added to the 100 per cent already given for oral, practical and project work to determine their overall final grade. That grade will appear on the Junior Certificate profile of achievement (JCPA).

“ We believe in the quality and professionalism of our teachers to award grades based on clearly defined criteria and using work already completed to date,” the school explained.

“We, as of now, do not know when we will be able to return and to what extent that return will look like in September

“We believe that our approach will help to keep 3rd year students focussed and engaged for these final 6 weeks of school term

“Above all, we believe that the plan outlined above is in the best interests of our students in Coláiste Bhaile Chláir.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times