The Junior Cert should not be going ahead this year or next due to the upheaval students have faced during the pandemic, according to columnist Jen Hogan.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, the author and mother of seven children said the current third Year’s are being “treated like guinea pigs” by the Government.
She said they have missed more school than any other age group and, when they move on the senior cycle, will be the first o be asked to sit their English Exam in Fifth Year.
“The current third years, the last time they had a normal school year, they were in sixth class,” she said.
“Even this year, yes, the schools stayed open and everyone is thrilled but we can’t pretend it was a normal year because with the restrictions at the time, people who weren’t boosted had to isolate if unvaccinated.
"That meant they missed huge amounts of school if anyone in the house had COVID or they were close contacts and then there were teachers missing too.
“Then last year, it was the middle of April when they got back to school. They were very late getting back. They got five or six weeks in 2021.
“I mean, remote learning for young teenagers … they’re not exactly renowned for self-motivation or anything like that and it was really hard to keep the focus.”
Both the Leaving Cert and Junior cert get underway tomorrow morning.
It is the first time the Junior Cert has gone ahead since the pandemic began and Ms Hogan said it’s ‘not fair’ to ask this year’s class to sit it as normal.
“I don’t think it should happen next year either,” she said. “I think for the next two years it should be suspended to give kids a chance.
“I would prefer if we were focusing on their wellbeing and development and on the foundations and things they missed so they are properly prepared for going into Leaving Cert.”
Ms Hogan said the Junior Cert is an important part of school life -but an exception should be made for children who were in secondary school during the pandemic.
“After the few years they’ve had, I would prefer there was more focus on helping them mix, helping them develop and helping them actually catch up and ensure they have the proper education foundations they need going into the Leaving Cert,” she said.
“Let’s not forget, these are the same kids who, God love them, the last full year they had they were in sixth class and now we’re going to use them as guinea pigs for the new Leaving Cert, where they’re expected to do an English exam in Fifth year.
“We’re just playing around with these kids’ lives.”
You can listen back here: