'Tradition can go out the window for one term': Cork student calls for an alternative to State Exams

'Tradition can go out the window for one term': Cork student calls for an alternative to State Exams
Jessica O'Brien, Leaving Cert student at St Aloysius' College.

The Mayfield native has called on government officials to consider an alternative solution, saying "postponing exams doesn’t work". 

"I have been taught all my life that young people have power and we must use that power for good, so that is why I am speaking.

"The decision to postpone the Leaving Certificate until late July and early August with two weeks of school to help us will only work in a fairytale world," she began.

"We need support from the adults who were supposed to support us and do their best for us. 

"We are not trying to wriggle out of an exam," Jessica continued.

The 18-year-old went on to detail how a number of her relatives are immunocompromised, and how she herself struggles with mental health issues, which have been exacerbated by the current situation.

"Most of my anxiety is school related and this year was already pushing me to breaking point," she said.

"One exam carries all the weight anyway. Now you add on the loss of family members. 

"Students who know nurses and doctors. Students with immunodeficiencies. Students who have lost family or friends. Students who will die. 

"Students with mental health issues that render them weak, dealing with the pandemic and mental health first rather than an exam," she continued.

Jessica explained how she has a place in a musical theatre course in a university in London, but that she needs her results by a certain date in August in order to accept that place.

She is calling on the government to consider a combination of online assessment and previous grades as an alternative to sitting the State Exams in July

"If it was left to me, I would take the grades from fifth and sixth year and then set online assessments for my students," she said. 

"Our mental health matters. Our physical health matters. Tradition can go out the window for one term."

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