A Fine Gael senator is calling for the Leaving Cert to run on the same 'hybrid' model as last year.
Regina Doherty says this year's exam students deserve to know the plan for this year's Leaving Cert soon.
Due to the extended lockdown in 2020, the traditional Leaving Cert exams were cancelled and replaced with a ‘calculated grades’ model (although some students also took the option of sitting written exams in autumn).
In 2021, however, sixth years were given the choice to accept predicted grades or sit the exams as normal.
They could also choose a ‘hybrid’ option, with their final result in each subject based on the higher of the two grades.
Since the class of 2022 has also lost months of school time due to lockdowns, there are growing calls from students and some politicians for the 2021 model to return this year.
On Newstalk Breakfast, Senator Doherty said she supports such a call.
She said: “I think we can have the exams in what we would consider the traditional, normal way.
“But I genuinely believe we owe the same compassionate options to students this year as we gave them last year… as the educational experience they’ve had for the last 22 months is not normal.”
Senator Doherty says a significant number of students contacted her last week about the issue, and she’s seen the impact of a ‘COVID Leaving Cert’ within her own family as well.
The Fine Gal senator also said the pandemic's effect on students' social lives has had a “massive impact” on their mental health and stress levels, so it’s “incumbent upon us to make sure we look after them”.
As a result, Senator Doherty believes they should have “exactly the same” system as last year - and she urged Education Minister Norma Foley to not wait until March to make a decision on this year’s model.
She said there’s “no doubt” the traditional exams should go ahead as well, but students also deserve a “release valve” to ease some of the stress.
She added: “We cannot ignore the fact that their educational experience has been anything but normal, so to proceed with a normal Leaving Cert wouldn’t do these students justice.”