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Leaving Cert alternatives under consideration but clarity to be given within the next few weeks, says Tánaiste

Alternatives to the Leaving Cert exam are being considered by the national advisory committee on the exams this afternoon.

CONTINGENCY PLANS AND possible alternatives to the Leaving Cert exam are being considered by the national advisory committee on the exams this afternoon.

Meetings are ongoing with the department and all stakeholders, but it is not yet clear when a final decision on whether the Leaving Cert will go ahead will be reached. 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said today that clarity on whether the Leaving Cert will go ahead this year will be given to students within weeks. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, he said government understood the enormous stress sixth year students were experiencing. 

He said students “need solutions”, stating that a plan would be made clear in the next few weeks. Students “can’t be left hanging”, he said. 

Three options are under consideration he said – a predictive grades system, a modified version of the traditional Leaving Cert, as well as the choice option where students can choose one of the above options or sit the exam perhaps later in the year. 

It is understood that those in government are pushing against the predictive grade system that was used last year, given the controversy that emerged around miscalculations. 

There is also concern about how student’s work would be assessed. Varadkar pointed out that this year’s sixth year students also missed out on three months of class time while they were in fifth year. He said they did not do their mocks or summer exams so there is little work to be assessed. 

Speaking to teachers, Varadkar said they believe the Leaving Cert can be held even with students out of school for such a prolonged period.

The Taoiseach told the Dáil that the government will “deal comprehensively and clearly with the situation facing our Leaving Certificate students”.  

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“They have gone through a difficult period because they were in fifth year last year and suffered as a result of school closures. They have suffered this year again as a result of the pandemic, coming out of the Christmas period and the schools are closed.  

“There will be provision made for them. The Minister is working with the partners and the national advisory committee on the exams, which has the voices of students, teachers, management and the State examination board, which has a key role. The Minister will come back in a comprehensive way to present options for the Leaving Certificate students of this year,” he said.

Varadkar admitted students “need to know sooner rather than later”. 

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