Next year’s Junior and Leaving Cert exams will take place ‘as normally as possible’

Teachers’ union wants guarantee exams will not be replaced with calculated grades

Next year’s Junior and Leaving Cert exams will take place “as normally as possible” in line with public health advice, according to the Department of Education.

In a statement, a department spokesman said all necessary measures will be put in place to ensure compliance with public health guidance in place at the time.

The department's comments come ahead of a meeting of the Oireachtas education committee on Tuesday, which will discuss preparations for next year's exams.

Minister for Education Norma Foley has stated on a number of occasions that it is the Government's intention to hold the Leaving Cert exams next summer, subject to public health advice.

However, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland said on Monday that it wants confirmation that the traditional Leaving Certificate will take place rather than the system of calculated grades which was introduced this year.

A spokesman for the department said the State Examinations Commission "intends to operate the 2021 State examinations as normally as possible, with appropriate contingency built in, in line with prevailing public health advice.

All arrangements in relation to next year’s Leaving Cert will be the subject of intense discussions and engagement with all stakeholders and detailed guidance will be issued to students in advance of the exams.

The spokesman added that detailed guidance on revised arrangements for next year’s exams had been issued, which took account of the disrupted learning experienced by students .

These included greater choice in exams and earlier provision of brief for project work.

However, the TUI has insisted that students and teachers need confirmation that the exams will go ahead as intended.

In the absence of these assurances, TUI general secretary Michael Gillespie said some schools were "hedging their bets" by scheduling an expanded range of formal assessments with the purpose of using the results as an evidential base for the award of calculated grades.

“This is leading to a distortion of teaching and learning patterns and is placing an insupportable burden of additional work and unrelenting pressure on students and teachers,” he said.

“The Minister must alleviate the burden on students and teachers and state clearly that the State certified examinations will be held in the long-established manner.”