Leaving Cert to be cancelled; replacement plans to be announced tomorrow

Leaving Cert to be cancelled; replacement plans to be announced tomorrow

Education Minister Joe McHugh has been meeting with stakeholders to discuss all contingency options.

THE Government is expected to announce the cancellation of the 2020 Leaving Certificate exams tomorrow.

With ongoing uncertainty about how the exams could be safely held, it is understood the Cabinet will approve plans to cancel them in the morning.

The ‘Plan B’ to replace them is believed to involve awarding students grades based on their classwork.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil today that if a decision is taken to cancel the exams, a “fair alternative” must be put in place.

Mr Varadkar faced heavy criticism from opposition leaders over the handling of the exam arrangements.

The ongoing debate over the exams has been hanging over students and affecting their mental health, according to Coláiste Éamann Rís student Alex Linehan, who was preparing to sit his exams.

“There is a lot of uncertainty around the exams, and my motivation has gone out the window,” Alex told The Echo. “I don’t think it should go ahead. It is not feasible and dragging it out into the summer is putting additional stress and pressure on our mental health.”

Alex said that when they started homeschooling in early March he put in a good deal of work but said it has gotten harder to keep up with his studies as the weeks go on.

“I’m hoping it will be called off and I really hope they have a plan B,” he said.

Alex said he would be in favour of predictive grading as a fair alternative to taking an exam in the middle of a global pandemic.

Education Minister Joe McHugh has been meeting with stakeholders to discuss all contingency options. Mr McHugh had previously said he wanted the exams to begin on July 29.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin hit out at the Government’s “lack of clarity and confusion”.

He added: “Why have members of Government talked about starting the exams without any detail on how this can be accomplished?

“There is no way of addressing the concerns and preferences of every student — but there are basic principles of equity which must be addressed.

“In recent days I have heard from many principles and teachers in many parts of the country about how certain students are not able to match others in terms of home-based learning.

“I am genuinely surprised that there has been nothing published so far by the Government assessing what the teaching and learning environment has been for Leaving Certificate students in the past two months.”

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