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Junior Certificate examinations will not go ahead this year, Department confirms

Minister for Education Norma Foley briefed teaching unions on the plans this afternoon.

Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Updated Feb 17th 2021, 7:25 PM

THE JUNIOR CERTIFICATE examinations will not go ahead this year, it has been confirmed. 

The announcement was made in a statement released by the Department of Education this evening. 

Schools are to be provided with guidance on continuing to engage this year’s Junior Certificate students in online learning and assessment while schools remain closed and through in-person learning when schools reopen. 

It has also been confirmed that Leaving Cert students are to be given the option not to sit exams and instead apply for a calculated grade accredited by the State Examinations Commission.

Minister for Education Norma Foley briefed teaching unions on the plans this afternoon after outlining the proposals at a meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee on Education.  

This evening’s announcement comes after intense discussions followed the decision of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) to pull out of talks on the Leaving Cert last week. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the TUI’s Martin Marjoram said the union had come to a decision that the Junior Cert couldn’t run. 

“We have come to a decision we don’t like coming to but on balance the Junior Certificate examination cannot this year,” he said. “It’s a decision we have made with regret but we have called for.”

Marjoram said that it had been previously the case to run both sets of exams at the same time, but that extra space would be needed to accommodate students sitting the Leaving Cert this year. 

In a statement last night, the TUI said that an early decision on the Junior Cert would ensure appropriate alternative assessment was put in place for those students while alleviating avoidable stress for students. 

The union said: “This decision would also prevent excessive workload and pressure for teachers and school management who are currently trying to ensure that Leaving Certificate students complete their SEC second components of assessments – for example, orals, project work, coursework – while also engaging in emergency remote teaching and learning for all other student cohorts.”

Marjoram said this morning that a system of alternative assessment of Junior Cert students in school would be welcome. 

“It’ll allow those students to move on to pick Leaving Cert subjects and move onto the next stage,” he said.

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With reporting by Sean Murray

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