Education Minister to present ‘options’ for Leaving Cert students

ireland
Education Minister To Present ‘Options’ For Leaving Cert Students
Micheal Martin
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By Cate McCurry, PA

The Minister for Education is to come forward with “options” for Leaving Certificate students, the Taoiseach has said.

Pressure is mounting on Norma Foley to make a decision on whether to press ahead with the year’s Leaving Cert in its usual format.

While the Minister previously said she was “determined” the traditional Leaving Cert would go ahead, questions remain whether this can be done as students continue remote learning into next month.

The Government was forced to make a U-turn on plans for Leaving Cert students to attend school for three days each week after Christmas.

Speaking in the Dáil, Micheál Martin said: “We should allow space for the partners in education and the Minister to facilitate the return of children with special needs to our schools and to deal comprehensively and clearly with the situation facing our Leaving Certificate students.

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“They have gone through a difficult period because they were in fifth year last year and suffered as a result of school closures.

“They have suffered this year again as a result of the pandemic, coming out of the Christmas period and the schools are closed. There will be provision made for them.

“The Minister is working with the partners and the National Advisory Committee on the exams, which has the voices of students, teachers, management and the state examination board, which has a key role,” Mr Martin continued.

“The Minister will come back in a comprehensive way to present options for the Leaving Certificate students of this year.”

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said Leaving Cert students are under “enormous pressure” and need to know what is happening.

“They have made their position clear: they want fairness, choice and an alternative method of assessment alongside the option of the traditional exam,” Ms McDonald told the Dáil.

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“It is time for the Taoiseach and the Minister for Education to make clear that they will facilitate this choice for those students and give them the clarity they need.”

Labour’s Aodhan O Riordain said the party is calling for an assessed-grade model for the Leaving Certs.

“I understand she is meeting her officials today, but at this point I think it’s important that clarity and certainty are brought into the situation,” he added.

“Students are watching and listening to every word the minister says. It’s particularly difficult for them, as it was particularly difficult for students last year.

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“In terms of Leaving Cert, they need certainty and the minister needs to move to do that today.

“It’s clear that the orals and practicals are going to have to be assessed, no matter what.”

He said that, therefore, all exams should be assessed-grades.

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