Opposition TDs slam 'grotesquely incorrect' decision to hold exam-only Leaving Cert

The Government has signed off an exam-only Leaving Cert this year with no element of predictive grades.
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

19.37 1 Feb 2022

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Opposition TDs slam 'grotesque...

Opposition TDs slam 'grotesquely incorrect' decision to hold exam-only Leaving Cert

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

19.37 1 Feb 2022

Share this article

Plans for an exam-only Leaving Cert this year have been slammed by the opposition as 'grotesquely incorrect' and 'disrespectful'.

Predictive grades won't be a part of this year’s assessment, despite calls from student groups for the same approach as last year to be put in place.

Instead, there will be more options and fewer questions for students sitting this year's exams.


Education Minister Norma Foley said they did examine having a hybrid grade system again this year but couldn't manage it.

She said a quarter of this year’s Leaving Cert students did not sit the junior cert and therefore there’s not enough data for an accredited grades system.

Full details of this year's plans are expected in the coming days.

However, opposition TDs have voiced major concerns over the Government's decision to ditch the hybrid model.

Speaking in the Dáil, Social Democrats education spokesman Gary Gannon said the decision is simply not fair.

He said: “One of the justifications you’ve given today for not affording students a hybrid Leaving Cert is that 25% of those students don’t have a junior cert.

“I’ve never liked the Leaving Cert, but one of the arguments made in favour by its proponents is that it’s a fair exam where everyone sits it on the same day. Now we have a scenario where three out of four students have had practice of a state examination, and one out of four students haven’t.

“Automatically, that logic goes out the window - those students will have an advantage.”

Deputy Gannon said the decision is a “crushing blow for students and their families”.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, meanwhile, the decision should be reversed, as it shows an “incredible level of disrespect” to young people.

She said: “Their voices have been ignored and set aside. The Government has failed fundamentally to understand the level of disruption they have been subjected to.

“Fairness is the victim in all of this.

“The Government has made the wrong call and I am asking the Taoiseach - in fact, I am appealing to him - on behalf of every Leaving Certificate student to do the fair thing, which is to give students choice.”

'A very disappointing day'

Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has been calling for a hybrid Leaving Cert for several months.

Opposition TDs slam 'grotesquely incorrect' decision to hold exam-only Leaving Cert

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Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, he explained: “It was clear to me that COVID was still having a hugely detrimental impact on young people’s education.

"In the senior cycle, they lost a number of months when they were in fifth year.

“Go into your average second-level school and you’ll see sixth-year students with their masks on, with windows open, and with a number of teachers out because of COVID.

“Even though the sense is COVID is hopefully to a large degree behind us and the restrictions have gone… that is not the case in your average second-level school.”

He said the expectation was that a hybrid Leaving Cert would happen, f0llowing calls from students and even the Ombudsman for Children.

He said he was also supportive of the Government's approach in 2020 and 2021.

However, he argued: “I think there is an inherent conservatism within the Department of Education that is resistant to change and just wants to get back to what they know best.

"They’re completely welded to this outdated, brutal form of examination which in my mind is in need of massive reform. It’s a very disappointing day.”

The Labour TD said he believes officials were "determined to come out with this outcome from the start.”

He said they would have had to come up with a hybrid solution if schools were closed, and suggested the junior cert issue “was an excuse they needed to find”.

Main image: File photo. Photo: Sam Boal/

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