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A Leaving Cert student from Loreto College on St. Stephen's Green in June 2021.
State Exams

Leaving Cert 2022: Teaching unions hit out at 'unhelpful' speculation about hybrid model

Students had a choice last year whether to sit an exam or receive an accredited grade.

THE ASTI AND the TUI have hit out at “unhelpful” speculation about this year’s State Exams and have said they should take place in the traditional fashion. 

The ASTI, which represents about 18,500 secondary teachers, noted in a statement today that “a significant number” of students due to sit their Leaving Cert this summer did not undertaken a Junior Cert in 2020 when it was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

“This means that there is no Junior Cert data from externally assessed Junior Cert exams available for these students,” the union said. 

Last year, the Leaving Cert was operated using a hybrid model whereby students had a choice of whether to sit an exam in each subject or receive a calculated grade which was known as an SEC-Accredited Grade. Students who opted to sit an exam received whatever result is higher between the two

Accredited grades awarded to students were calculated based on class work, in-school exams and Junior Cert results. 

The system was devised by the Department of Education in conjunction with unions but the ASTI had previously pushed for a traditional written exam system in 2021. 

The Department of Education has said there are no plans for a calculated grades system in 2022 but but representatives from Sinn Féin and the Labour Party have in recent days called for a hybrid model. 

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) is also supporting a hybrid model, pointing to the disruption being caused Covid-related absences among teachers and students. 

In separate statements today, however, both the ASTI and the TUI have criticised suggestions about a hybrid model in 2022. 

“The ASTI is committed to an externally-assessed Leaving Certificate 2022 in line with the students’ and teachers’ expectations,” the union said, adding that a “high quality, fair, and independent State Exams system is vital”. 

Speculation regarding previous one-off grading processes during the pandemic is unhelpful at this stage, particularly given that the data used for these processes is not available for all 2022 Leaving Cert students.

The TUI said in its statement that this year’s circumstances are “radically different” to the past number of years and there is “no justification” to have an alternate system. 

“It is the strong position of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) that the traditional State Examinations must take place this year. The current circumstances are radically different from previous years and there is no justification for offering additional options to students. On that basis, the TUI will not support any other options,” the TUI said.

Recent contributions from some political parties around this issue are unhelpful and will inevitably lead to more uncertainty in school communities that are already struggling with the varied consequences of the pandemic.

Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD said over the weekend that 2022 was “not an ordinary exam year” so a traditional Leaving Cert would not be appropriate. 

Similarly, Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD said that the disruption to students meant that “the fairest thing to do” would be to undertake a hybrid model.

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