The Leaving Certificate

A chara, – Breda O'Brien makes some very valid points regarding the Leaving Certificate ("Schools debacle exposes worrying lack of planning", Opinion & Analysis, January 9th).

However, I must take issue with her very strong criticism of the calculated grades system, which she describes “as the worst-case scenario for Leaving Cert students because they have no credibility given how badly they worked last time”.

The statistics from Leaving Certificate 2020 would tend to point to a much more positive outcome.

Of the 60,000 students who were scheduled to sit the Leaving Certificate in 2020, almost all students appear to have accepted or were satisfied with their calculated grades.

In fact, only 2,500 students, or 4 per cent of the Leaving Certificate student cohort, applied to avail of the opportunity to sit the Leaving Certificate written papers in November.

The majority of these students only sat examinations in one or two subjects, which implies that they accepted the calculated grades in their other subjects. Notwithstanding a number of complaints or criticisms, that is certainly not a “worst-case scenario” or an indication of how “badly” calculated grades worked out the last time. – Yours, etc,



Drogheda, Co Louth.

Sir, – Following the debacle of last week’s Leaving Certificate year “will they/won’t they” return to school episode, I write urging the Minister for Education, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to address definitively the sitting of this year’s exam.

There are five months until the exam – this is plenty of time to organise the logistics for a safe, socially distant environment. There are plenty of halls and classrooms up and down the country where small numbers of pupils could be accommodated safely.

If additional resources are needed, I am sure that hundreds, if not thousands, of people would willingly volunteer to help.

A repeat of the stress and strain on our young people, and the waste of effort for civil servants, school principals and teachers that the uncertainty generated by indecision last year, must be avoided.

Our young people are preparing for this exam. The conditions are not ideal, by any means, but they have spent their senior school years anticipating it.

Make the decision now and remove the uncertainty for them and halt the endless speculation in the media.

It is their right to sit it – let us do our best to ensure that they do so. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.

Aidan Dunne

Aidan Dunne

Aidan Dunne is visual arts critic and contributor to The Irish Times