The Leaving – resilience and waiting

 

Sir, – It is clear that the number of students sitting the Leaving Certificate written exams across the country is much less than the number of those who initially signed up to do so. It would seem that many students decided from an early stage to keep their options open and only commit to sitting an exam just before or on the day of that exam.

This has brought about its own dynamic in social rituals associated with the exams.

In many schools, there are more exam centres which are more distant from each other and with fewer students than before. Because of this and necessary social distancing restrictions, student congregations before and after the exams are sparse.

In the case of English Paper 2, for example, the traditional adrenaline-filled, 10-minute postmortem on what poet didn’t come up was replaced by quiet chats and a sense of reserve upon departure from the exam.

There is something quite moving about saying goodbye to students in this context and something noble, yet poignant, in their resignation that this is the way it is and has to be. A sense of melancholy prevails.

Yet what better paragon of hope can we have than the example of these students.

These young people have wrestled with uncertainty, anxiety, and assessment policy turbulence over the past year and a half, yet their mettle has won through. They must be unreservedly commended for their strength, endurance and resilience.

Considering the diminished number of students now sitting the written exams, the question emerges as to why students must wait until September 3rd to get their Leaving Cert results.

Surely, because of the lower numbers, data processing times might be faster and results might be published sooner?

Irrefutably we owe it to our students to at least try, so that we can help them move on to the next stage of their lives. – Yours, etc,

JOHN McHUGH,

Principal,

Ardscoil Rís,

Dublin 9.