THE Cork-based president of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI), has called for clarity on the 2021 Leaving Certificate exams amid concerns that some students due to sit the exams next year may currently be being over-assessed.
Speaking to The Echo, ASTI president Ann Piggott said that, in some instances, schools may be encouraging teachers to keep assessing students regularly.
Ms Piggott said this was “putting a lot of pressure on everybody” including the teachers and the students “because they all feel that these results may be used for next year’s Leaving Certificate”.
“I’ve heard students saying they are doing exams on a weekly basis or a monthly basis,” she said. “Teachers are also voicing their concern because they are worried for the pressure on the students and on themselves.”
Last week, the Minister for Education, Norma Foley, reconvened an advisory group of key stakeholders who had advised on altered arrangements for the 2020 State examinations, to perform a similar role in respect of the 2021 exams.
The minister reconfirmed that her intention is for the conventional Leaving Certificate examinations to be held in 2021.
Ms Foley also said that the examinations would take place with the appropriate public health and contingency measures in place. This view was echoed by members of the advisory group.
Ms Piggott said that ASTI is also “very much committed” to having “a normal exam” next year.
“We did engage in calculated grades, but that was a once-off commitment, and we would really like there to be a leaving cert as normal as possible next year,” she said.
The ASTI president also said that clarity is needed on the content of next year’s exams.
“While the department might be offering extra choice, the extra choice currently being offered may not reduce the extra workload,” Ms Piggott said.
“The 2021 class have missed quite a bit of time, and they are also worried for the future. They are worried in case they might have to restrict their own movements for a week or two.
“They are worried if a year group might be sent home. They have big worries.
“I think the sooner that we are told that it will be a traditional normal exam, and the content of the exam papers is specified, that would do a lot to relieve tension at the moment,” she added.
Almost 60,000 students are expected to sit the Leaving Cert nationally in 2021, with over 10% of those, or around 6,500, from Cork.
Meanwhile, Ms Piggott said concerns have also been expressed about the 2021 Junior Certificate exams, and that it is important that these exams also go ahead as normal.