SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS are to appear before an Oireachtas committee this morning as they attempt to secure extra time for students sitting Junior Certificate English.
The Joint Committee on Public Petitions will meet at 1.30pm to hear from Tara O’Sullivan, who submitted a petition on adding the 30 extra minutes to the Junior Certificate English exam.
O’Sullivan will appear with her fellow students Adrianne Ward, Ellen McKimm and Faye Dolan.
Committee chair Seán Sherlock said that this afternoon’s meeting is important as it is the first occasion that the committee has invited petitioners to appear before it.
“Tara and her secondary school classmates put considerable effort and time into crafting a petition which speaks for many school-goers around the country,” he said.
“The Committee first considered the petition in April of this year and we later called officials from the State Examination Commission and Department of Education and Skills to appear before us to discuss the matter.
Tara, and the classmates who assisted her in drafting the petition, will have their chance to make their case for adding additional time to the exam.
“The committee welcomes the fact that the younger generation are actively engaging with the parliament on the issues that matter to them and we look forward to a productive discussion on this petition tomorrow.”
O’Sullivan launched an online petition last year after struggling with the timing of her English mock exams.
She explained that after using the provided sample papers and completing mock exams many of her peers felt questions were doable but that they all agreed that the timing was “ridiculous”.
She said: “Lots of students who faced this exam did not finish the paper and those who did had no time to assess and adjust their answers before having to hand up the paper. To give students the opportunity to express their thoughts and analysis as eloquently as expected, I truly believe more time is necessary.
I am asking for 30 additional minutes to be added to the end of our English exam. Our teachers have expressed frustration on behalf of students and themselves but have seemed to be ignored.
“As a democratic society that needs its people to be able to think and vote for themselves, I believe disregarding the opinions of its youth (especially in relation to education) is a terrible mistake.
“As a future young voter I am disappointed by how little effect the dissatisfaction of students and teachers is having on the decisions being made by both the State Examinations Commission, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and in the Dáil itself.
“Everyone is affected by this problem, students who are going to take the exam, teachers and parents that have to deal with nerves that the uncertainty this exam has brought, the entire country that will deal with the decisions these students make as future voters.”
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