The Minister for Education has confirmed that this year’s Leaving Cert will be suspended with students handed 'calculated grades' in its place.
Students that do not wish to accept the calculated grades will be able to sit the exams at a later date.
Education Minister Joe McHugh said this may happen in the Autumn or "whenever it is safe" for the exams to be held.
He said students can decide to to accept the calculate grades for some subjects and sit future exams in others.
College places for the upcoming year will already have been handed out by the time any exam can be held, meaning students who do sit the re-arranged exams will have to wait until September 2021 to begin college.
“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," said Minister McHugh.
“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.”
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The process for calculating grades will involve teachers, school principals and a new unit within the Department of Education.
Teachers will be asked to provide a professional judgement on each students attainment which will be "subjected to a rigorous in-school alignment process to ensure fairness."
Principals will then be asked to approve the estimated scores and rankings for each student in each subject.
The new special unit will then process the data provided by each school and "operate national standardisation" of the marks in a bid to "ensure fairness amongst all students."
Students will be able to appeal the grades - with officials asked to check the data provided by schools, the transfer of the data to the department and the way it was processed by department officials.
Minister McHugh said he hoped the results will be available "as close as possible to the traditional date."
He said he fully understands the “magnitude of this issue” for the students and their families and insisted the decision was "taken with the best interests of students at heart.”
“I have a responsibility to find a fair way to address the disadvantage that some students are facing and the impact a lack of time in school has had in recent weeks," he said.
“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 decision has to be taken now to remove the anxiety that many students have been experiencing over how the exams would look later in the summer.”
Students will be handed a formal State certification based on the calculated grades they have been given. There will be no Leaving Cert fee and anyone who has already paid it will be refunded.
Cabinet members signed off on the new plan this afternoon.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Department of Education had been working on a plan that was ‘fair or as fair as possible.’
He admitted there would be “a lot of people who are disappointed in the decision” and a “lot of questions.”
He insisted a “huge amount of work” had been undertaken to prepare answers to those questions and offer certainty to sixth-year students.