Cork TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire is bringing forward a motion to the Dáil on Tuesday to secure a choice for this year’s Leaving Cert students between calculated grades and written examinations.
Mr Ó Laoghaire, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on education, has urged the education minister, Norma Foley, to put students at the centre of the debate about this year’s exams.
“The Leaving Cert class of 2022 cannot continue to be left in limbo by the minister for education,” the Cork South-Central TD said. “Now is the time to reassure them and provide some clarity.
“That is why Sinn Féin will bring forward a motion calling on her to do just that, which will be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday.”
Staff absences caused by Covid-19, as well as the experience of school during a two-year-long pandemic, have prompted calls for another year of a “non-traditional” Leaving Certificate exam.
These calls focused on a hybrid approach to exams: Students would have a choice between sitting exams and accredited grades.
Leaving Certificate students gathered outside the Dáil last week, demanding that Ms Foley listened to their concerns.
“The message from Leaving Cert students could not be any clearer: They need a choice, between written exams and calculated grading, in recognition of the significant disruption they have experienced in their learning over the last two years due to Covid-19,” Mr Ó Laoghaire said.
“The findings of a poll by the ISSU, the largest representative body for second-level students on the island, this week show that over two thirds of Leaving Cert students want a hybrid exam model this year.
“These voices must be listened to. The minister and her department continue to act as though this has been a normal academic year for Leaving Cert students, when we know that it has been anything but.”
When the issue was raised last week, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he understood that students needed “clarity as soon as possible”.
He said there had already been “significant adjustments” to the Leaving Cert to anticipate any disruption.
But he warned that it may not be possible to provide additional places at universities and colleges for the second year in a row, after Higher Education Minister Simon Harris secured extra places amid high demand from students in 2021.