Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.45 6 May 2020


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The Children's Rights Alliance is calling for Leaving Cert students to be given the choice of sitting the exams or to avail of predictive grading.

The COVID-19 crisis has meant the state exams are now scheduled to begin on July 29th, following a planned two weeks of student class time.

Education Minister Joe McHugh is today meeting with officials and teaching unions today to discuss all options currently on the table regarding the Leaving Cert exams.

Government ministers have said education officials are still planning for the exams to go ahead in the summer.

However, there have been recent calls from some political parties - including Fianna Fáil - for the exams to be cancelled.

In a statement yesterday, the National Parents Council post primary (NPCPP) called for "clarity and prompt action" regarding the exams - saying "clear alternative options" need be put forward.

The prospect of predictive grading has been proposed by on a number of occasions by different groups.

It would mean schools and teachers predict the grade students are likely to receive based on their work throughout the leaving cycle.

The prospect has also raised some concerns, with the Labour Party insisting it would not be "the right solution".

A Department spokesperson says a number of back-up options are being considered, but predicted grades are the front-runner if the traditional exams can't proceed as planned.

'They need to give young people an option'

Children's Rights Alliance CEO Tanya Ward said students should be given the choice of either traditional exams or predictive grading.

She explained: "We know from young people themselves that they're finding the stress of not knowing the Leaving Cert is going to progress... it's causing a huge burden on them.

"I think they need to give young people an option - to either sit the Leaving Cert or to proceed through predictive grading.

"Some young people are likely to benefit from doing the exam, and some young people are likely to benefit through the predictive system."

The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), meanwhile, is among the groups meeting with education officials today.

TUI president Seamus Lahart said any decision needs to have the best interests of students in mind.

He said: "We are working to facilitate the exams on the 29th July - but that is predicated on health advisors advising us that that is safe to do so.

"Given that health authorities are only able to extend that advice 2-3 weeks in the future... we are still uncertain about that health advice being available to us."

Mr Lahart said it's vital that there's a "fair and equitable" system in place for the 61,000 students who are due to sit the exams.

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

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