One of main providers of Leaving Cert ‘mocks’ suspends services

DEB Exams will not set or correct exams for schools due to uncertainty over closures

 The Government has insisted it intends to hold the traditional Leaving Cert exam this summer, rather than again rely on the calculated grades system. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The Government has insisted it intends to hold the traditional Leaving Cert exam this summer, rather than again rely on the calculated grades system. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

One of the main providers of ‘mock’ State examination papers has suspended services and stated it will be unable to fulfil any orders placed with the company for this academic year.

DEB Exams, which sets and corrects mock exam papers, announced it had taken the decision with “deep regret” following the closure of schools.

“We have taken the difficult decision to pause all operations with immediate effect to fully comply with the latest Government announcements regarding Covid-19 and tighter Level 5 restrictions,” the company said in a statement.

“This means that we will not be able to fulfil any orders that have already been placed for the 2020/2021 academic year,” the statement said.

“We would like to sincerely apologise to you, your colleagues, your students and their families for this grave decision and the consequences that it may initiate, but it is beyond our control,” it said.

Senan Kelly, managing director, said due to school closures it was “very unclear whether there would be time to run mock exams,” which usually take place in early February. “The difficulty we face is the unknown,” he said.

Schools still had access to 10 years of past mock papers set by the company, if teachers wished to draw on those to set their own mock exams, he said.

Examcraft, the other main provider, confirmed it still intended to set mock exam papers for schools in the coming weeks.

Philip O’Callaghan, Examcraft managing director, said given long school closures last year, the mocks were seen as “more important than ever” for current Leaving Cert students.

The Government has insisted it intends to hold the traditional Leaving Cert exam this summer, rather than again rely on the calculated grades system.

Mr O’Callaghan said there was “uncertainty” around when schools would reopen, but added students sitting the Leaving Cert would likely be the first cohort to return.

Half of the schools the company provide mock exams to correct their own papers, with Examcraft providing correction services for the other half, he said.

Schools could defer the mock exams by a week or so if necessary, he said.

Holding the preparatory in-house exams would also give students “a particular focus on the next few weeks” while learning remotely, he said.

The company “will do our very best” to take any extra orders or meet increased demand following the decision by DEB Exams to suspend its services, he said.