Government accused of ignoring students’ Leaving Cert pleas

The Government has been accused of ignoring the pleas of students and “barging ahead” with traditional Leaving Certificate exams following confirmation this week that a hybrid approach will not be considered for this year’s exam.

  Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice was quick to criticise Minister for Education Norma Foley’s handling of the situation this week.

  Deputy Fitzmaurice said pleas from students and local public representatives had fallen on deaf ears.

  I visited students in St. Cuan’s College in Castleblakeney, Co. Galway, in recent weeks to discuss their views on how the Leaving Certificate exams should be dealt with this year,” he said.

  “All of the students present put their points across passionately, noting that all they wanted was the choice – the same one that was afforded to their school friends who were in the exam year in 2021”.

  Deputy Fitzmaurice higlighted the recent results of a national survey of Leaving Certificate students which showed almost 70 per cent in favour of a hybrid approach to the exam.

  “It is extraordinary that Minister Foley and her Government colleagues can sit and defend the stance taken on this year’s Leaving Cert,” he added.

  “I can’t place much faith in the argument that almost one in four of this year’s Leaving Cert students had not sat their Junior Cert exams as a result of the disruptions caused by Covid.

  “Surely there would be enough evidence to calculate a grade from all of the class exams and tests carried out in the last two years, as well as the mock exams?

  “These students have had their entire Leaving Cert cycle interrupted by Covid, and yet they are not being offered the same system that was available to students last year. It is totally unacceptable”.

  Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TD Claire Kerrane has accused Minister Foley of ignoring students.

  “Leaving Cert students are incredibly hurt; indeed they are angry. They feel that their voice has been totally disregarded by the Minister and her Government,” she said.

  “Students made it clear that the only way to ensure fairness was a choice between calculated grades and written exams, and they hoped that the Minister would centre students’ voices in the debate over an exam, which has the ability to significantly alter their futures.

  “Students told me this, they emailed me, they contacted me on social media and they told me during their lunchtime protests. They were crystal clear”.

  Deputy Kerrane said the traditional Leaving Certificate was unfair to students who are “far behind where they should be”.

  “Covid has affected different schools and different students, and different teachers in different subjects, in different ways. Additional choice within the traditional exam papers cannot fairly compensate for that, it cannot level this playing field,” she said.

  “The only way to ensure fairness is to offer them the choice between calculated grades and written exams”.