Cork mum highlights challenges facing Leaving Cert students 

Cork mum highlights challenges facing Leaving Cert students 

THE mother of a Cork Leaving Certificate student has called on Minister Simon Harris and Minister Joe McHugh to replace this year’s Leaving Certificate exams with a predictions system.

Fermoy woman Helen Griffin said her daughter, Caitlin, has been left extremely stressed not knowing when her exams will be.

Currently, the Junior Cert examinations have been cancelled while the Leaving Certificate examinations are expected to take place either in late July or early August, according to the Government.

They have been postponed because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mrs Griffin has written to the Health Minister and Education Minister to seek a cancellation, but says she has not received any response.

She has made the move as Sinn Fein’s Education spokesman Donnchadh O Laoghaire has called for a special helpline and counselling service to be set up for Leaving Certificate students.

Mrs Griffin said: “We want this year’s exams to be cancelled and replaced with predictions instead. A similar system is being done in the UK.”

In the UK, students who were due to sit A level, AS level or GCSE exams this summer will receive a calculated grade. 

The calculated grade process will take into account a range of evidence including, for example, non-exam assessment and mock results, and the approach will be standardised between schools and colleges.

Mrs Griffin said a similar system in Ireland would be less stressful for students. 

The oral examinations have already been cancelled, with students being awarded full marks for them.

She said: “The orals would have been right up her alley. She does Irish, Spanish and French, and does Chinese privately on a Saturday morning.

“Her sleep has been interrupted and she is trying to study at home but she finds it hard.”

She added that there are online classes available from the school she attends but separate online revision courses are not available through Irish.

“What happens if they return to school and a student develops the virus? 

"Has anybody thought of what happens then — will they cancel the whole thing again, adding to the stress of the students?”

The teen, who is hoping to study world languages in UCC, has now abandoned plans for a Leaving Cert holiday with friends as she does not know when the exams will take place.

Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said: “The last few weeks have been incredibly difficult for most people; not least Leaving Cert students who are enduring great anxiety and stress at the moment. 

"The priority at this point in time needs to be the safeguarding of students welfare and mental health, and there is a need for a dedicated helpline to provide counselling and support services to help deal with the pressures students are facing.”

 “I am aware that some supports are available through the National Psychological Service, but in my view we need a dedicated helpline that is resourced to provide mental health supports and also the ability to answer questions that students may have; acting as a one-stop-shop for queries.”

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