Education and exams in a pandemic

 

Sir, – Being a sixth-year student in a pandemic hasn’t been easy. We lost out on three vital months of our Leaving Cert course. We were told that we had nothing to worry about during this time because we were only fifth-year students, and we still had a whole year left to finish our course. Look where we are now.

We are a couple of weeks away from our mock exams.

Cases are rising, and it is likely that we won’t be back in school for a couple weeks, or possibly months. We don’t even know if any practical or oral examinations will be going ahead, let alone our written Leaving Cert exams. It is hard to prepare for something that we don’t know is actually going ahead.

I have seen people say to students to pretend that nothing is happening, that there is no pandemic. But is that a realistic solution?

All students want is clarity. If the practical exams are going ahead, please tell us. If oral exams are going ahead, please tell us. If our Leaving Cert is going ahead, please tell us. – Yours, etc,

SINÉAD ENGLISH,

Dublin 18.

Sir, – Scotland cancelled the A-levels in early December, noting, quite rightly, that the inequality from Covid school closures impacted more on those from disadvantaged backgrounds. England has just done the same.

I hope we’re not in for several months of flapping about – it’s on, it’s off, it’s on but at a later date, what about the mocks, the orals, the practicals, etc.

Surely we should just accept that we are in extraordinary times and, for the sake of everybody’s mental health, we should go with assessment again this year, despite the shortcomings of this approach. After all, the Leaving Certificate proper is not without many shortcomings.

The elderly deserve a vaccine rollout as soon as possible, and our youth deserve clarity and assurance regarding State exams quickly. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN COSTELLO,

Ogonnolloe,

Co Clare.

Sir, – In a full-page article (“Ten ways pandemic will shape education in 2021”, Education, January 5th), no reference is made to those without whom this education system could not function, the teachers. These men and women to whom we entrust the care and formation of our children, the future generation, for the greater part of their young lives from three to 18 years and who, by their dedication and vigilance, kept them safe during this pandemic, surely deserved some acknowledgment. – Yours, etc,

E McCARTHY,

Oughterard,

Co Galway.

Sir, – The Department of Education cannot work out how to send school staff their payslips electronically (“Department of Education spending more than €2 million a year posting payslips”, News, December 13th).

It’s not surprising that coming up with a plan for the Leaving Cert this year might prove difficult. – Yours, etc,

A McGREAL,

Dublin 7.