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Parents' group accuse Foley of 'kicking the ball down the road' on 2023 Leaving Cert

The CSSPA, which represents parents from over 340 schools, says students will be ‘hugely disadvantaged and unfairly treated’.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE CATHOLIC SECONDARY School Parents Association (CSSPA) has urged Minister for Education and Skills Norma Foley to ensure that next year’s Leaving Cert isn’t a complete return to the pre-pandemic exam.

In a letter intended for parents to send to Foley, the CSSPA has pointed out that the Leaving Cert class of 2023 hasn’t sat the Junior Cert, or any state exams, due to the pandemic.

The representative body has also stated that students “must not suffer due to grade inflation in recent years”, and that adjustments to this year’s exam paper which resulted in more choice and fewer questions should be kept.

A Department of Education spokesperson stated: “The announcement made by Minister Foley in 2022 regarding the assessment arrangements and overall grade outcomes for Leaving Certificate 2022 reflect the disruption to their learning that has been experienced by this year’s Leaving Certificate students over the past two years, including periods of school closures whilst those students were in the Senior Cycle, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Planning for the 2023 examinations starts immediately following the 2022 examinations. At present no changes to the 2023 assessment arrangements for the State Examinations have been made, and this will be kept under review.”

Spokesman for the group, Don Myers, accused the department of being too slow to act to ensure that next year’s school leavers weren’t at a disadvantage.

“It would be great if students could go to school next September and know exactly what’s happening. Notifying people in January or February, like how it happened before is ridiculous, it’s way too late, they need to know as soon as possible. Let them know so there’s less stress.

“The department will say they need to finish dealing with this year’s Leaving Cert first before they look at next year’s but that’s only an excuse. They’re kicking the ball down the road and hoping this will die down.”

Two weeks ago the director general of the Irish Universities’ Association told RTE’s Morning Ireland that his organisation, which represents eight universities, wants Leaving Cert exams to take place in May.

Jim Miley said that the IUA had written to Foley about the idea and that it would mean exam results and planning for student accommodation could happen quicker for students and parents.

The CSSPA was highly opposed to this proposal, saying that it gives students less time to study. 

“We shouldn’t disadvantage them anymore than they already have. They’d be losing even more time and the disruption has already been volatile for their education. Universities should take one step at a time and the jump from 2nd to 3rd level is a big stride. Making that happen quicker won’t make it easier.”

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One significant change will be made to the Leaving Cert, however it will be too late for students sitting the exams in 2023.

Fifth year students starting in 2023 will be able to complete their English Paper 1 and Irish Paper 1 exams at the end of the school year rather than doing them in sixth year.

The Leaving Cert itself will only make up 60% of a student’s final results,

The remaining 40% will be made up of ‘teacher-based’ assessments, with the remaining portion to be evaluated through teacher-based assessments.

These will be carried out by a student’s teacher but will be moderated by the State Examinations Commission to avoid grade inflation.

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