Time for clarity on Junior Cert plans

 

Sir, – I would like to commend Miriam Wiley for drawing attention to the fact that the needs of Junior Cert students are being not being served by the vague references to “school-based exams” to replace the cancelled State examination (Letters, April 17th).

I would like to point out, however, that her suggestion for the State Examination Commission (SEC) Junior Cert exam papers to be issued to schools is precisely what has been proposed to the teaching unions. The Government intends that the students sit 10 rigorous SEC examination papers in September, after three months of summer holidays and six months since they had been in a normal school setting with their teachers. Carl O’Brien reports that “teachers would be required to administer and mark the exams” and incorporate results onto the Junior Cycle profile of achievement, which is a school certificate (News, April 17th). Contrary to Miriam Wiley’s rational assumption that in such a scenario these SEC exam papers would be “marked independently”, and thus eligible for the “concrete evidence” of State certification, the students will be put under stress to spend the summer studying for meaningless examinations. How is the mental health and wellbeing of the nation’s 15 year olds being served in this instance? Why should my daughter be the victim of the Government’s ill-advised promise of delivering both State examinations by “hook or by crook” to settle for a poor second best that will only succeed in bringing stress on whole school communities. If the Junior Certificate cannot be administered and certified as a State examination, which clearly it cannot, then it should indeed be cancelled outright. As both a parent and a teacher, I would appreciate more clarity, honesty and focus on wellbeing from the Government on this matter. – Yours, etc,

FIONNUALA ENGLISH,

Tralee, Co Kerry.