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'We're still playing catch-up on last year' - students call for more clarity over exams

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Leaving Cert Student Sinead English from Sandyford Dublin.

Leaving Cert Student Sinead English from Sandyford Dublin.

Leaving Cert Student Sinead English from Sandyford Dublin.

Leaving Cert students are urging the Government to make a decision on exams sooner rather than later to avoid a repeat of last year's debacle.

Education Minister Norma Foley is determined the Leaving Cert will go ahead as normal in the summer, but with Covid-19 case numbers surging and schools set to close again, students are seeking clarity.

Pressure

Dublin student Sinead English (18) said the class of 2021 has been put under "significant pressure" to make up for time lost during fifth year.

"We're still playing catch-up at this point, and while we should be finishing our course around now, we're nowhere near finished," she told the Herald.

"Our mock exams are supposed to be going ahead soon and I don't feel prepared at all.

"There has been an increase in workload this year and an increase in class tests as teachers are preparing in case the calculated grades system is used again.

"Usually you have tests at the end of term or at the end of the month, but they were weekly."

The St Tiernan's Community School pupil said students are "left in limbo" as they have no idea if oral, practical or mock examinations will go ahead.

In the UK, it was announced yesterday that all secondary school exams will be replaced by school-based assessments.

The calculated grades system adopted here, where teachers graded students on past performances, caused much controversy.

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Education Minister Norma Foley

Education Minister Norma Foley

Education Minister Norma Foley

A review of the system resulted in more than 6,000 pupils getting their marks improved after an error in the coding used to standardise the results was discovered.

Ms English hopes to study social science at UCD.

She would prefer to sit the traditional Leaving Cert, but is not against the idea of the calculated grades system once last year's issues are rectified.

"I am not saying the Leaving Cert should or shouldn't be cancelled. Personally, I find benefits to both options. One size doesn't fit all," she said.

"All students want is clarity. We want to know are we wasting our time studying and stressing over exams that might not even go ahead.

Delay

"If the practical exams are going ahead, please tell us. If oral exams are going ahead, please tell us. If our Leaving Cert is going ahead, please tell us."

Teachers are urging schools to delay mock exams for Leaving Cert students, given the worsening Covid-19 crisis.

"It is up to individual schools to adapt and change given the evolving situation," a spokesperson for the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) said.


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