Intensive discussions on plans for the Leaving Certificate 2021 are set to get underway, with stakeholders to consider two “distinct processes” for the exams.
The Minister for Education, Norma Foley announced this evening that following a series of intensive engagements of the sub-group of the Advisory Group of stakeholders on planning for the State examinations, a new phase of planning for the exams is to begin with education stakeholders being asked to participate in bilateral discussions on the provision of Leaving Certificate examinations and also exploring a corresponding non-examination process.
Speaking this evening, the Minister said the pandemic has impacted greatly on the learning experience of our Leaving Certificate 2021 students over the last year.
“Even though our schools have made huge strides in remote learning, the closure of in-school provision has impacted on learning and preparedness for examinations, particularly for students at greater risk of educational disadvantage.
“We must provide our students with a clear way to progress to the next stage in life – further and higher education and training or the world of work.
“Students want certainty. They want fairness. They deserve both.”
The Minister added: “I am inviting the education partners to now engage intensively with the Department in planning for the next steps, to enable decisions to be made and to bring much-needed certainty for students.
“We will be actively planning both to hold the Leaving Certificate examinations, and to put in place a corresponding measure that can also be offered to students. The discussions in the Examinations Advisory Subgroup have been hugely helpful in considering the many issues and challenges involved. Examinations need to be available to students. Given the impact on learning for students both last year and this year, there is also a need to explore a parallel approach which can be offered to students.”
Minister Foley said that any corresponding measure should have the confidence of the education partners.
"Last year a process was put in place that involved schools generating estimated marks and the application of a national standardisation process. This allowed students to progress. Any corresponding measure this year would need to incorporate new features. In particular, the State Examinations Commission will need to be given the necessary legal powers to run the process. It will also need to provide more comprehensively for students studying outside school. Recognition of the skills and competences associated with orals, practicals and coursework should also form a clearer part of any such measure.
“Due to the nature of the pandemic, and the need to always have regard to public health advice, in addition to planning actively to hold the Leaving Certificate examinations, it is necessary to have in place a parallel measure that can also be offered to students."
The Minister confirmed that discussions on Junior Cycle examinations will continue in these engagements.
The ASTI has this evening confirmed that it has accepted an invitation issued by the Minister for Education Norma Foley to enter into intensive confidential discussions on the Examinations 2021, as part of a process of bilateral discussions with the education stakeholders.
“We are committed to working constructively with all stakeholders to ensure that Leaving Certificate 2021 goes ahead as normally as possible and that alternative plans, should they be necessary, will be put in place,” it said in a statement.