The Ombudsman for Children has said the traditional Leaving Cert should not proceed in 2022, stating his support for students unhappy with current plans for the exams.
Dr Niall Muldoon said current “small adaptations” to the traditional format were insufficient for children who had experienced “two years of disrupted education” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It comes as students held a number of protests across the State on Wednesday, calling for a hybrid Leaving Cert model to be used with a choice between predicted grades and exams.
“I am fully supportive of the ISSU (Irish Second-level Students' Union) and the students who are saying that they are not happy with the current plans for Leaving Certificate 2022,” said Dr Muldoon.
“The students are telling us that the proposed accommodations do not fully address the disruption to education that students have experienced over the past two years. We must listen to what they are saying.
“It is not fair or right to force children who have had two years of disrupted education to perform to their best with small adaptations to the traditional Leaving Certificate format.
“The disruption of the past two years, as well as the high level of student and teacher absenteeism since schools reopened in September, cannot be ignored.
“The adjustments made in the examination papers in August did not foresee the level of disruption that would come from a new Covid variant like Omicron and that needs to be catered for now.”
Dr Muldoon said “it is imperative” that students are given certainty as soon as possible on the plans for this year’s exam.
He said the ISSU’s call for a hybrid model “has to be investigated”. “Is there a way to adapt the model used over the past two years to address the concerns of the education partners?” he asked.
Senior education sources have previously indicated that the hybrid Leaving Cert of 2021, which gave students a choice between sitting written exams and accredited grades, would be “impossible” to re-run this year.
Earlier on Wednesday, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said students will get clarity on the Leaving Cert in the next few days.