Secondary school principals in Cork have welcomed the revised arrangements for this year’s Junior Cycle announced this afternoon (Wednesday, April 29th).
Under the new plans, schools are being given autonomy to decide whether to or not to run school-based assessments and what form they will take.
The Department has said options to consider for this include school-designed examinations, tasks, projects, assignments, essay style questions, presentations, or other tasks agreed at a local level.
The work and achievement of third year Junior Cycle students will be recognised with a state certificate from the Department of Education and Skills, which will be issued at the end of the current school year.
Tracey Kennedy, Principal at Carrignafoy Community College said she welcomed the Minister’s announcement and said she was delighted to see the Department find a mechanism so that students could be certified for completing the Junior Cycle “without the complication of trying to sit school based assessments in September.”
At Carrignafoy Community College, third year students will sit examinations in the coming weeks in the same way as students in other year groups.
Fergal McCarthy, Principal at Kinsale Community School also welcomed the announcement which he said would “relieve students” who would now be able to complete their junior cycle work before the summer break.
Mr McCarthy said he felt this was very important, especially to students entering into transition year.
“To open that with an exam that brings an end to the junior cycle is out of sync with the mindset, culture and emphasis of the TY programme,” he said.
The Kinsale Community School principal said he believed the decision would also remove “a fair wave of anxiety” for students in third year who may already be worried about grandparents cocooning, or their parents’ income.
Mr McCarthy pointed out however that a portion of students do not have access to devices, or have issues with connectivity and may depend on data on their phones to complete any assessments.
He called on phone providers to provide free data to students to “relive and alleviate some of the inequality that exists” for these students.
Aaron Wolfe, Acting Principal at Coláiste Éamann Rís meanwhile said that the decision was “the right decision for students and for teachers.”
“Now it is down to schools to decide what to do. We still have to take account of how to do it, whether to post exams, or do it another way” he said.
Mr Wolfe said he is currently consulting with teachers on how third year students should be examined.