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Delay in issuing Leaving Cert results 'will cause huge levels of additional stress and worry'

The Leaving Cert exam results will be issued on 2 September.

Invigilator Padraig Carbury hands out Leaving Certificate exams at O'Connell Secondary School on North Richmond St in Dublin on 8 June 2022
Invigilator Padraig Carbury hands out Leaving Certificate exams at O'Connell Secondary School on North Richmond St in Dublin on 8 June 2022
Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Updated Thu 3:40 PM

LEAVING CERTIFICATE RESULTS will be issued to students on Friday 2 September, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) has confirmed.

This will be the third year in a row that Leaving Cert and Leaving Cert Applied examination results won’t be available until early September, later than the usual mid-August date, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The delay in issuing the results this year has been criticised by some opposition TDs.

Details of the arrangements for the 2022 certificate examinations were announced on 1 February. Since that time, the SEC has been planning “all aspects of the examinations across Leaving Certificate, Leaving Certificate Applied and Junior Cycle”, a statement issued today noted.

“This has been a significant undertaking in the current year in light of the ongoing effects of Covid-19 on schools; candidates; contract staff and the staff of the SEC. Some 131,000 candidates are undertaking examinations this year, an increase of 6% (+7,000) compared to the last time a full set of examinations was run in 2019.

“There are a number of significant factors which have made providing a date for the issue of the Leaving Certificate results challenging. The SEC has an absolute responsibility to examination candidates to ensure that their work is marked to the highest standards of quality and integrity and the Commission must be able to stand over the results it issues each year,” the statement added.

The SEC said 2 September was chosen as the date due to a number of factors, including the following:

  • The provision of a deferred sitting of the examination for candidates who experience close family bereavement or who are unable to sit their examinations due to serious accident, injury or illness; or on public health grounds due to Covid-19
  • Giving effect to the Minister for Education’s commitment that the overall set of results in 2022 will be no lower, in the aggregate, than the 2021 results
  • Addressing the impact of shortages in the numbers of teachers required to fill examiner positions to mark the written examinations (while marking has already started, the SEC is continuing to recruit examiners noting that Covid-19 is also having an impact)
  • In advance of the issue of the results, sufficient time must be allowed for an extensive range of checks and quality assurance procedures which are required in the resulting process to ensure that the highest standards possible are maintained

‘Completely unacceptable’

Social Democrats’ Education Spokesperson Gary Gannon said the delay in issuing the results “will cause huge levels of additional stress and worry” and “make it extremely difficult for students, who need to travel for third level, to find accommodation given the depths of the housing crisis”.

Gannon said the reasons given by the SEC for choosing 2 September as the results date do not “stand up to any scrutiny”.

For a start, it’s difficult to understand how merely holding deferred exams for a small minority of students could contribute to any delay. Further, the SEC has known about a shortage of examiners for quite some time. It is worth asking, what has the SEC actually done to address this perennial issue?

“Finally, an assurance that grades would be kept at 2021 levels certainly adds some additional complexity to this year’s exams. But, given this assurance was made back in February, it beggars belief that systems could not be put in place to minimise the delay caused by this additional step.”

Gannon said the delay will also have consequences for two accessibility schemes – Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and Disability Access Route to Education (DARE).

“Orientation for these students – for students with disabilities and those from areas which are under-represented at third level due to their socioeconomic background – usually starts the week before students return to college.

“This earlier start is to provide additional supports and assistance. Delaying the Leaving Cert results could seriously impact these hugely important orientation programmes.

“The SEC has had a long time to prepare for this year’s Leaving Cert results. It is unacceptable that it failed to do so – and that students are paying the price of that failure,” Gannon stated.

‘Difficult to comprehend’ 

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, also criticised the delay, saying it is “difficult to comprehend as the system this year will not be subject to the same challenges as existed during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“The reason for this delay must be explained. If this is due to an insufficient number of markers, we must know why adequate preparation was not done as the markers required could have been anticipated well in advance.

Students will now be under pressure to make preparations for college within very short periods, such as securing appropriate accommodation. We must ensure that everything possible is done to assist students with these challenges.

“There must be a particular focus on international students, who may have been allocated places conditional on a certain starting date. The Minister must engage with international application bodies, including UCAS, to ensure that students won’t lose their place because of the delayed publication of the Leaving Cert results.

“The publication of Leaving Cert results is already a stressful enough time for students and their families. The Department has no excuse for adding to this stress through failure to adequately plan. The Government must do much more to ensure that students receive their results in a timely and efficient way,” Ó Laoghaire said.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, Education Minister Norma Foley defended the plan, saying we are “still journeying through Covid” and dealing with the knock-on effects of the pandemic.

Foley said the provision of a deferred sitting of exams for some students and shortages in the numbers of teachers required to fill examiner positions played a role in choosing the date.

“Every student should have the maximum opportunity to showcase their talents”, she said, adding “if we could magic up another date that would be done”.

Foley said that calls by some stakeholders to move the exams to earlier in the year, rather than in June, would have “a huge knock-on effect” and require starting the school year itself earlier than normal.

The minister said she believed third level institutions would show “flexibility” in terms of students starting their courses in September.

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Due to the pandemic, students in 2020 and 2021 had the option of sitting the written exams in June or receiving calculated or “accredited grades” instead.

Students could opt to sit the exam in person and/or receive an accredited grade for each subject. Students who opted to do both would receive the higher of the two results.

However, this year there was no accredited grades option.

The 2022 Leaving Cert exams started on Wednesday 8 June and will run until next Tuesday, 28 June. The Leaving Cert Applied examinations concluded on 16 June and the Junior Cycle exams concluded on 20 June.

Results will be issued to Leaving Cert students through the online Candidate Self Service Portal. The SEC will email candidates about the planned date for issue of the results.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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