Exam changes sought due to World Cup


Teachers and students have called on the Department of Education to alter the exam timetable. They want a change to allow more than 100,000 Leaving and Junior Cert candidates watch the three opening World Cup games.

As the timetables stand, the students will be able to watch only the first game against Cameroon this Saturday because of their exam commitments. The new Union of Secondary Students (USS) said pupils doing exams should be allowed to watch the games along with everyone else.

"The World Cup is the vital time in every soccer fan's life and the Irish are known for their fanaticism and patriotism when it comes to sport. It would be nice if the 60,000 or so Leaving Cert students could be part of that," said USS spokesman Mr Daire Hickey.

The INTO general secretary, Mr John Carr, also called on the Department to look at the timetables again.

"The schedule of games should have been considered when the exam timetable was being drawn up. Could a number of free days not have been timetabled into the schedule when we knew what the World Cup draw was several months ago?" he asked.

"Why do we have students trying to concentrate on English, history and French when all attention is on the Germany and Saudi Arabia games?"

However, the Department of Education said yesterday it would not be altering the timetable for a range of reasons, including the risk students might drink during or after the games.

It said the existing examination day was already demanding and changing it would place further pressure on candidates. It also said any change would impinge more "onerously" on candidates with special needs who required additional time with Braille and other equipment.

The Department said there was also the risk some parents might take legal action if changes were made. "Any one candidate, or his or her parents, could challenge any decision to alter the published timetable on the grounds of having a legitimate expectation the examinations would proceed as announced," said a spokesman.

Leaving Cert students have little chance of seeing all the games live. When the Republic play Germany on June 5th, students will have just finished their first English paper and will be due to start their second at 1.30 p.m.

On June 11th when the Republic's game against Saudi Arabia kicks off, students will still be completing their French paper.