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Leaving Cert officially cancelled

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For the first time since its introduction, the Leaving Certificate has been cancelled, the Minister for Education has confirmed.

Speaking shortly after 2pm, Minister for Education, Joe McHugh (FG) confirmed that all students would be offered the option of accepting calculated grades or sitting written examinations at a later date when it is deemed safe to do so.

There are two main phases in the process of arriving at a calculated grade: School-based and national standardisation. Both phases are underpinned by the principles of teacher professionalism, support for students, objectivity, fairness and equity, collaboration and timeliness. School principals will approve the estimated scores in each instance.

Exams had previously been rescheduled for a start of July 29th. The ongoing uncertainty surrounding the examinations had been criticised by teachers, students and parents.

Results are anticipated to be released as close as possible “to the traditional date,” McHugh revealed. Confirmation of a results date will be announced in the coming weeks.

“I have made every effort to run the 2020 Leaving Certificate as close as possible to the way the examinations were originally intended to be held. My desire had been to allow students to undertake the written and practical examinations in July and August but I have compelling evidence, based on medical advice and other assessments, that the Leaving Certificate examinations cannot be held in a reliable and valid manner, nor in a way that would be equitable for students,” Minister McHugh stated.

Minister McHugh said that the decision was made with the “best interests of students at heart”. He added, “The system being put in place will allow a young person to progress to the next stage of their life in a timely fashion.

The following is a breakdown of the process to be applied for students to be given the option of Calculated Grades or to sit the examinations.

  • The 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations, previously scheduled to take place in late July and August, have been postponed.
  • There will be no Leaving Certificate fee this year. All exam fees which have been paid will be refunded.
  • Teachers will be asked to provide a professional judgment of each student’s attainment which will be subjected to a rigorous in-school alignment process to ensure fairness.
  • The school principal will approve the estimated scores being provided and the rankings of each student in each subject in the school.
  • A special unit is being established within the Department of Education and Skills to process the data provided by each school and operate national standardisation, again to ensure fairness amongst all students.
  • The Department will finalise the grades for each student which will be issued to each student as close as possible to the traditional date. Formal State certification will also be provided.
  • Students will retain the right to appeal. This will involve checks on school-entered data; correct transfer of that data to the Department; a review that it was correctly received and processed by the Department; and a verification of the Department’s processes by independent appeal scrutineers.
  • Students will also retain the right to the sit the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations at a date in the future when it is deemed safe for state examinations to be held.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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