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Leaving Cert talks to continue this evening after a day of 'intense' negotiations

The ASTI has said the minister has agreed to work on the union’s concerns.

Image: Laura Hutton/Rollingnews.ie

Updated Feb 15th 2021, 7:02 PM

TALKS ON THE proposals for Leaving Cert 2021 are continuing this evening after they had collapsed last week.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) withdrew from the talks last Thursday citing concerns about whether the proposals on the table were workable. 

A round of intense talks between union and department officials took place today, which are understood to now be at a sensitive stage in the negotiations.

Any decision or announcement on the Leaving Cert exam is dependent on the continuing discussions with education stakeholders. 

The Minister of Education has said the government is committed to preparing for a twin-track approach to plan both a traditional Leaving Cert and a “corresponding measure”. 

The ASTI had said last week that the approach being adopted would see the Leaving Cert being “relegated” behind a calculated grades option. It also expressed concern that the lack of data this year would make such an option “extremely challenging”.

Union representatives met with the minister on Friday in a meeting that was said to be constructive and the ASTI agreed to enter again into full talks. 

“The minister was unequivocal in her statement of commitment to holding the Leaving Certificate this year,” the ASTI said.

“On that basis, the ASTI believes that doubts regarding the staging of additional component elements of this year’s Leaving Certificate Examinations have been substantially alleviated. We expect the minister to ensure that they will take place.”

In its statement, the AST said that its concerns over a lack of data potentially hampering a calculated grades option was discussed. 

The union said that the minister had committed to “working with stakeholders to strengthen the position in this regard”.

Although talks are to begin again today, the government has said that no timeline is being set about when an official announcement can be expected.

NPHET

Speaking at the Department of Health press briefing this evening, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published an updated risk assessment today and outlined that the closure of schools “should be a last resort”. 

“As I’ve said here on many occasions, it has to be our first priority to get our schools reopened,” Glynn said. 

“That said, we’re by no means alone across Europe at the moment in having significant parts of our education system closed, and we are keen to get them reopened,” he said. 

Glynn added that the reopening of schools will “need to be done on a phased basis” and that it will “need to be done cautiously”. 

He said that he is aware that talks are ongoing regarding the reopening of schools, however added that he is “not going to provide a statement that gets into the middle of those talks”. 

“I’ve been very clear that our primary concern was around the mobility that was involved in a full reopening and the over one million people that necessitated in terms of mobility and the impact of that on disease transmission,” Glynn said. 

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“The disease is going in the right direction. We’re not there yet. We need to continue to see decreases … last week we saw a decrease of 15% which is much reduced on previous weeks, so we need to continue to see progress over the coming weeks,” he said. 

Includes reporting by Hayley Halpin

 

With reporting by Christina Finn

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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