Leaving Cert students set to get extended deadlines to complete coursework

Students’ body says traditional State exams cannot go ahead due to school closures

Thousands of Leaving Cert students are set to be given extended deadlines to complete coursework for the exams as a result of school closures

Thousands of Leaving Cert students are set to be given extended deadlines to complete coursework for the exams as a result of school closures

 

Thousands of Leaving Cert students are set to be given extended deadlines to complete coursework for the exams as a result of school closures.

The State Examinations Commission is to allow students to delay submitting some coursework by the equivalent amount of time that schools remain closed, according to well-placed sources.

Leaving Cert students were due to complete a number of projects over the coming weeks such as PE, economics and design and communication graphics, art, engineering, construction studies and computer science.

These dates are likely to be extended by the equivalent amount of time that schools remain closed.

This is on the basis that complete of these project requires access to specialist rooms and equipment.

No decision has yet been made on the future of oral exams, according to sources, but it is understood that a number of contingency plans are being examined.

Minister for Education Norma Foley has said it remains the Government’s intention to hold “traditional” Leaving Cert exams this year.

However, she told education partners in meetings on Friday that this will require a return to school and confidence among students and teachers.

Abandoned plans

Schools are due to remain shut until at least February 1st and a decision on whether further closures will be required is due at the end of January.

The Government last week abandoned its plans to return Leaving Cert students to school for three days a week in the face of opposition from teachers and principals.

Meanwhile,the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union has called for the traditional State exams to be replaced with an alternative format for 2021.

The union is currently consulting with students in its 480-member schools and plans to bring forward student views and potential solutions for the 2021 State exams soon.

A town hall-style gathering of member student councils will take place this weekend to hear further student feedback on the state of online learning, school closures and the State exams.

A survey launched last week by the union has already received 20,000 responses, the results of which are due to be published this weekend.

ISSU president Reuban Murray said it was clear that exam year students in particular were “really struggling”.

“Leaving Certificate students are entering their fourth month of online learning of a two-year senior cycle, and even though we knew that schools were not able to deliver online learning to the same standard last year, these gaps have not been filled or addressed in the intervening months,” he said.

“Now, we are looking at an uneven playing field for students in the home stretch towards exams, and student stress and anxiety is unbelievably high”.

The union’s education officer Alicia O’Sullivan said students want to work with the Department of Education and other stakeholders by exploring “innovative ways that the exam classes of 2021 can be awarded grades fairly and safely”.

“We now have the time to evaluate these processes and give guidance to students. This needs to be decided on soon however; we cannot string students along with months of uncertainty and backtracking on decisions to the detriment of students’ welfare.

“We do know however, that the traditional State exams cannot go ahead as was initially planned,” she said.