Opposition TDs call for decision on Leaving Cert exams

Opposition TDs call for decision on Leaving Cert exams

Following a meeting of ministers and officials on Monday, a number of options are still being considered by the Government.

Opposition parties have called on the Government to make an immediate and final decision on how Leaving Certificate exams will be held later this year.

Following a meeting of ministers and officials on Monday, a number of options are still being considered by the Government.

It could be another week before a decision is taken on how the exams will be handled.

One of the options explored by the Government is to give students a choice between calculated grades and written exams.

However, Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon said that leads to a level of uncertainty among students.

The party said that last year's decision to replace exams with predicted grades should be repeated this year.

"Over the last couple of days there has been talk about a blended option offered to students, it's such a level of uncertainty," Mr Gannon added.

"I think calculated grades give students a certainty of what will happen.

"The blended options means that one cohort will be taking one exam and the other cohort of students will be taking another exam. When the students do get back to school it's going to be impossible for teachers to teach two different classes, taking different approaches to the Leaving Cert.

"There will also be potential problems on the horizon in the sense of college offers going out in the summer, which will be given the greater weight?"

Meanwhile, Labour education spokesperson Aodhan O Riordain said that a decision on the format of the exams needs to be taken this week.

Mr O Riordain also said that "absolutely nothing has happened" since the announcement by Minister of Education Norma Foley that an independent review would be held into last year's Leaving Cert.

In October, Ms Foley said the Government would establish a non-statutory review of the calculated grades process.

"If that had happened at that time we would have learnt our lessons and be in a better position to make a decision as to what should happen with the Leaving Cert cohort," Mr O Riordain said.

"Absolutely nothing has happened in terms of the independent review. Now we are faced with making a decision with no information and no lessons having been learned.

"The decision needs to be made now - it's not fair on students watching the news every day to learn what is happening next. We have no idea when they will be back in schools.

"Offer a calculated grade to every student and and after that, if a student isn't happy with that grading system, they can return and do a written exam."

Labour also welcomed the decision by the Government to open special needs schools on a phased basis from next week.

The decision comes following an agreement between unions and the Department of Education.

Special education schools will reopen on February 11 with a maximum of 50% of pupils attending on alternating days, while classes for special needs pupils in other schools will resume on February 22.

Mr O Riordain said the stigmatisation of teachers' unions and SMAs was "extremely unfortunate" over the handling of special needs schools.

"What happened over the last number of days has been much more positive, we now have a road mark for the return of schools for those who need it most," he added.

"It's not a complete return to school but a welcome development."

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