Leaving Cert contingency plans being examined, department says

Education sources say option of awarding grades in absence of exams being discussed

The Department of Education has confirmed that ‘complex’ issues relating to contingency plans for the Leaving Cert are being examined by officials. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times.

The Department of Education has confirmed that ‘complex’ issues relating to contingency plans for the Leaving Cert are being examined by officials. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times.

 

The Department of Education has confirmed that “complex” issues relating to contingency plans for the Leaving Cert are being examined by officials.

However, it says it is still planning for the exams to go ahead on July 29th, subject to public health advice.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh is to attend an advisory group meeting on the exams on Wednesday to review where the department is on “all scenarios related to the Leaving Cert”, a department spokesman said.

The department has declined to comment further, but education sources have said the option of awarding grades to students in the absence of exams is due to be discussed.

The spokesman reiterated the department’s position that it is planning for the exams to go ahead at the end of July, with a more detailed announcement in relation to the planning for the exams due next month.

“The Minister has also made it clear that he wants to see students get at least two weeks of class time, in school, before the Leaving Certificate examinations begin. That would also have to be based on health advice,” the spokesman said.

“Meanwhile, work has been continuing on contingency planning around the issues related to the Leaving Certificate. This detailed work is ongoing and a number of complex issues are being considered.”

An advisory stakeholder group has been meeting twice a week to discuss issues in relation the Leaving Cert in recent times. Planning for the examinations is still being discussed, including by this group, the spokesman added.

‘Plan B’

The Irish Times reported on Monday that work around a “plan B” was being advanced if a decision was reached that the exams could not proceed.

A group representing the parents of secondary school students, meanwhile, has called for information on “clear alternative options” to be made available to students and parents.

The National Parents’ Council Post Primary did not state whether exams should go- ahead or be replaced with an alternative such as predicted grades.

However, it said there is an increasing and unacceptable level of stress and pressure on Leaving Cert students and their families.

It called on Mr McHugh to urgently bring forward options and offer clarity on the Leaving Cert, including timelines and a conclusion date.

The council said it was disappointed with the fact that there was no reference to the Leaving Cert exams in the Government’s roadmap for easing restrictions last Friday.

In the absence of being able to confirm the exams will take place, the council said  parents are seeking alternative plans “which take account of other potential scenarios and that will offer alternative routes to completion and a definitive conclusion date for students”.

It said the disparity of facilities and support for Leaving Cert students across the country is clear and that one solution “cannot and will not offer fairness and equity to all students.