Oral and practical tests for the Leaving and Junior Certificate have been cancelled.
Scheduled to run from Monday 23rd March to Friday 3rd April, Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh (FG) made the announcement on Thursday morning that the oral and practical examinations would not proceed. All students who were due to take these tests will be awarded full marks for this portion of the exam.
It comes in the wake of countrywide school closures as a safety measure to help flatten the curve of Covid-19 spreading. Some 126,000 students are due to take the state examinations in 2020, 65,190 students sitting the Junior Cycle examinations and 61,053 students are due to sit the Leaving Certificate Established, Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme and Leaving Certificate Applied.
Minister McHugh said: “This is a difficult time for all. Students are facing a challenging period out of school and our decision on this element of the exams is being taken with their best interests at heart. It is the fairest response we could take in the circumstances. It guarantees that no student will score less than they would have if schools had been operating as normal.
“We have seen a new emphasis on remote learning amid the uncertainty about the impact of Covid-19 and the closure of all schools. I hope this decision will ease some of the pressure that students are feeling and allow them to focus more clearly on completing project work and preparing for written exams.”
Leaving Cert students will now receive full marks for their Oral tests in Irish, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese plus the practical performance elements of the Music exams. The same applies for Junior Cert students who had been preparing for the practical in both Home Economics and Music. For affected subjects, students will not be able to switch between the grade they have currently chosen meaning they cannot jump from Ordinary Level to Higher Level Irish in an attempt to maximise their points.
McHugh also confirmed changes to deadlines for students to complete project work and coursework in a number of subjects. Students were originally scheduled to complete these elements of the state examinations on a number of dates from Friday 20 March to Friday 24 April 2020, depending on the subject. Students will now be given until Friday 15 May 2020 to complete this work.
Second phase of practical examinations remain as originally scheduled from Monday 27 April to Friday 8 May, as well as the final written examination in the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) scheduled for Wednesday 6 May, a range of oral and practical tests in the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) programme, along with the first examination in Leaving Certificate Computer Science on Wednesday 27 May, and the final written examinations commencing on 3 June.
He said the Department will continue to work with the State Examinations Commission to monitor the Covid-19 situation in terms of its potential impact on the other later scheduled components of the state examinations. “We will continue to respond at the right time and in the right way, with the impact on our students at the forefront of our minds”. Although he acknowledged the difficulties on young people attempting to prepare for the State Examinations, he stated that the written part of the assessment would proceed.
All schools have been asked to continue to plan lessons and, where possible, provide online resources for students or online lessons where schools are equipped to do so. Schools have also been asked to be conscious of students that may not have access to online facilities and to consider this actively in their responses. School buildings are available to staff if they wish to access the facilities in order to provide online delivery, or essential services once this is in line with Health Service Executive (HSE) advice.