Uncertainty still abounds for Cork students and teachers over Leaving Cert changes

Uncertainty still abounds for Cork students and teachers over Leaving Cert changes
Photo. Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

There has been mixed reaction from students and teachers in Cork following the announcement of a date for the Leaving Cert.

It was confirmed on Thursday that the state exam will begin on July 29.

Cian Pierce, a student at Glanmire Community College who last week called for the Leaving Cert to be cancelled, said that while it has given students clarity, it’s still not adequate.

“For better or for worse, but mostly worse, it has given us clarity. Even my peers who were in favor of the postponement seem to think they’re just stretching it out and again the general consensus is that they’re not listening or taking students seriously,” Mr Pierce said.

He said that there has still been no information given beyond the start date, and that there is much speculation about how the exams can be held, due to social distancing guidelines.

“Overall there’s still a lot of confusion and discontent,” Cian added.

Meanwhile, Principal of Douglas Community School Pat Barry told The Echo that there is a “certain element of clarity” regarding the start date, but there is still room for changes.

“The idea is that it will go ahead, but I suppose, nobody has 100% certainty on that either, with the way the numbers (of cases) are going on a daily basis - up one day and down the next,” he said.

He said that the proposal to hold one exam a day will make studying for the individual exams easier than traditionally, but as a result will draw the exams out for longer. Mr Barry also said that holding the exams so late in the summer could affect other aspects of the students’ lives.

“It affects many things for them, like summer jobs, saving money for college. The leaving cert holiday won’t happen.” Overall, he believes that as regards the exams themselves, the Leaving Cert being in a format that students are used to is positive, especially as they have been doing work on past exam papers over the last few months.

“They will be presented with the exams in the same format that they’re used to, and that familiarity brings a certain element of comfort for them and they are satisfied with that. But, it’s a lot removed from the traditional format that it was, which will make the whole thing very different,” Mr Barry said.

He went on to say that there has been no direction given yet on social distancing guidelines, but that not holding the Junior Cert exams at the same time will make it somewhat easier to manage.

“One of the advantages of the certainty of saying the Junior Cycle exams were not going to go ahead at the same time, is that the exam centres - classrooms, halls or assembly areas - that you would be using for the Junior Cert can now be devoted to the leaving cert, giving that extra space,” he said.

Close to 100 students will sit their Leaving Cert in Douglas Community College.

“Managing social distancing for us will be difficult. We’ll need far more centres than we traditionally would have and that will take extra supervisors to manage,” Mr Barry said.

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