Has the time come to scrap the Leaving Cert?

In the News podcast: Ireland’s final exams are ‘brutal but it’s not fair’

What kind of long-term impact does the Leaving Cert really have on people’s lives? Photograph: iStock

What kind of long-term impact does the Leaving Cert really have on people’s lives? Photograph: iStock

 

We all remember our Leaving Cert – memories of that high-stress period during the final year of secondary school continues to haunt the dreams of many millions of Irish people.

But those Leaving Cert nightmares may soon become a thing of the past. Why? A major advisory report, which is due to be published any day now, could reshape our entire Leaving Cert system and finally bring an end to the rote learning, memorisation tests so many of us endured in order to get into college.

Unfortunately, overhauling the Leaving Cert, which has existed since 1925, is expected to move slowly with changes likely to take years rather than months.

Children who are currently in their early years of primary school may be lucky enough to sit this new type of Leaving Cert, Irish Times education editor Carl O’Brien told In The News. “That’s how long we’re talking about. Nothing happens quickly when it comes to curriculum reform.”

Meanwhile, the changes made to the exam process during the pandemic are set to be dropped for now, with the class of 2022 on track to sit the traditional Leaving Cert exam next June – an examination system many in this country still view as “brutal but fair”.

“It is brutal but it’s not fair,” Professor Anne Looney of Dublin City University told the podcast. In reality, many people quietly support the Leaving Cert because it’s a “reasonably accurate sorting out the deserving from the undeserving”, she added.

So what kind of long-term impact does the Leaving Cert really have on people’s lives, and is it finally time to scrap this archaic exam system?

In the News is presented by reporters Sorcha Pollak and Conor Pope

You can listen to the podcast here:

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