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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -1°C Education minister Joe McHugh.

Leaving Cert and Junior Cert orals and practical exams cancelled - all students to get full marks

The decision was announced this morning by the Department of Education.

ALL STUDENTS WILL get full marks in Leaving Cert and Junior Cert orals and practical exams, the Department of Education announced today. 

The exams, which were meant to take place between 23 March and 3 April, have been cancelled. 

It was a week ago that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that schools and colleges across the country would be closed in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The decision covers oral tests in Leaving Certificate Irish, as well as French, German, Italian, Russian and Japanese. 

It also includes practical tests for Leaving Certificate music and practical tests in Junior Certificate music and home economics. 

Deadlines will also changing for students to complete coursework and project work in a number of subjects, with submission dates moving to 15 May. Work was scheduled to be due between 20 March and 24 April. 

In a statement this morning, education minister Joe McHugh said that it was a “difficult time for all”.

Students, he said, are “facing a challenging period”. 

“Our decision on this element of the exams is being taken with their bests interests at heart,” he added.

“It is the fairest response we could take in the circumstances it guarantees that no student will score less than they would have if schools had been operating as normal.”

The Department of Education and Skills is not yet calling off or postponing Leaving Cert exams, which over 61,000 students are scheduled to sit.

Instead, it is working on the assumption that the peak of the outbreak will be April or soon after, meaning that students could potentially be in a position to go back to school.

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced that GCSE and A Level exams would be cancelled. 


The State Examinations Commission and the Department of Education and Skills worked closely together on the decision. 

A spokesperson for the State Examinations Commission said that students “should continue to prepare for the practical examinations scheduled for the end of April and early May and the final examinations scheduled for May and June”.

The spokesperson acknowledged that students “are bound to have concerns about the demands of “examination activity when they return to school particularly as they will wish to refocus their efforts on their preparations for the written examinations”. 

But, the spokesperson said, in taking these decisions “student welfare is of the utmost concern”.

Speaking to reporters, McHugh paid tribute to Ireland’s students, calling them “resilient”. They have a huge role to play in the coming months, he said, “keeping morale high and making us laugh”.

“Do whatever you can to make life better for everyone,” he asked students.

All schools are currently trying to operate remotely, with online resources and lessons if possible. 

Last night, a further 74 cases of Covid-19 were announced in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total here to 366 cases.

This morning, an elderly person became the first patient in the North to die of Covid-19. 

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