Labour Youth Calls for Cancellation of Leaving Certificate Exams 2020
Labour Youth are calling for the immediate cancellation of the Leaving Certificate exams and for the implementation of a predictive grading system to be put in place as a matter of priority for the Department of Education and Skills.
Across the country, thousands of Leaving Cert. students have had to face unimaginable pressure and uncertainty as no other cohort of students have faced before as a result of the closure of schools due to covid-19 lockdown measures. While the measures were entirely necessary in curbing the spread of covid-19 and protecting the health of students with underlying conditions and their families, the impact on students wellbeing and their ability to adequately prepare for the Leaving Cert. has been disregarded by the government in proceeding with a “business as usual” approach towards the Leaving Cert.
Our rationale in calling for the cancellation of the Leaving Cert. exams and the introduction of predictive grading is summarised in these key points:
1. Studying from home is not viable for many students due to a range of circumstances. Students with poor quality or limited access to broadband and those who are in difficult home circumstances (e.g. lack of space in the home or familial issues) are disproportionately affected in their ability to study and prepare for the Leaving Cert. at home. 2. The mental health strain placed on Leaving Cert. students at present is detrimental to the wellbeing of students. The Leaving Cert. as it stands in ‘normal’ times is a very pressurised and difficult period for young people, in the midst of a national crisis this strain is enhanced and is putting students under mental duress. 3. Students who would normally have access to additional supports and SNAs are deprived of
this and are placed at a greater disadvantage. 4. Leaving Cert. students with underlying health conditions or with vulnerable family members will potentially be putting themselves and their families at risk by entering into exam halls. Even with social distancing in place, large gatherings of students in one place will undoubtedly prove to be a risk factor for contracting and spreading covid-19. 5. A survey conducted by the Irish Second Level Students Union (ISSU) which 46,000 students responded to found that a majority were in favour of cancelling the exams and implementing a system of predictive grading. This gained the highest preference of students with 49% indicating it as their preferred option.
Within Labour Youth, our own members who are undertaking the Leaving Cert. this year have all expressed their preference for the cancellation of the exams. Oisín Tiernan, Membership Development Officer on the National Youth Executive recently stated in an article that “the risk of running the exams is a perilous and unfair situation to place upon sixth years in Ireland and their families”. Grace McGoldrick who is also a member of Labour Youth outlined the impact the current situation is having on students “the stress that three extra months of sixth year is putting on the physical and mental health of sixth year students is unnecessary and dangerous. The postponement of these exams was the wrong decision”.
As outlined above, the implications of proceeding with the Leaving Cert. exams as normal this year are significant and the negative impact it will have on many students is too great to ignore. Proceeding
with the exams “by hook or crook” is simply not feasible in a time when every other facet of our society has had to adapt and find new ways of operating in a landscape dominated by covid-19. The Leaving Cert. is not an exception to this and should not be treated as such.
Labour Youth are calling on the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh to cancel the Leaving Cert. exams and to introduce a system of predictive grading urgently. In the interests of fairness and equality for our young people it is now the only viable option.