The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) has released a statement condemning the decision to go ahead with a traditional Leaving Certificate format this year.
Students sitting the 2022 exams will be given greater choice on how they will be assessed because of disruption caused by the pandemic.
This planned format includes the option for students to sit the examinations during the summer should they become sick and be unable to sit the exam.
Emer Neville, ISSU President commented on the dissatisfaction of this year’s sixth year students, who have been “very vocal about the disruption they are facing in and out of the classroom.
“There is no online tuition provided to those isolating, and students have missed class time throughout 2021 and 2020 as a result of school closures. There is no way we can stand over assessing these students with the traditional Leaving Certificate.”
Neville continued: “We are calling on the Minister of Education to take students’ voices into account and revise the decision about State exams for 2022”: she continued.
Jack McGinn, ISSU Education Officer believes that “in light of the circumstances, we must put students first as it is their future that will be impacted.”
Some teachers have expressed concerns over students due to sit their Leaving Cert this summer without having sat their Junior Cert because of Covid-19 restrictions. They believe that this could cause issues in grading students, if there is no past exam performance to compare them to.
Following this, the ISSU have said that a survey asking students what their preferred format is will be run, similar to the one run last year by the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI).
The survey is to ask 550,000 participants what they would like the conditions of the 2022 Leaving Certificate to be like, including issues regarding room temperature, permission to wear jackets indoors, and absences. Provisional results favour a hybrid model, according to the ISSU.
Teachers unions have called for the exams to go ahead this year.
The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) says that the situation this year is markedly different to that of last year and the year prior. TUI says it has received reports of students disengaging academically, due to an expectation that they will not have to sit examinations.
Eamonn Dennehy, ASTI President said: “It’s unfortunate that this speculation is happening right now and it’s certainly not helpful for students.”
“The position of the ASTI has always been to support the idea of external examination and the work that the State Examinations Commission does in that regard. It’s transparent, reliable and it’s extremely well done. It’s rigorous and highly respected. It is perfectly feasible that the exams would be able to go ahead”.
Dennehy added that he believed the confusion over exam format 2022 is causing “unnecessary anxiety” for students.
Deputy President of National University of Ireland Galway Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh has also commented, saying he believes the hybrid format to be “intensely unfair”, as it allows students who have done the exam in entirely separate ways to be marked alongside each other.
Whilst he said he sympathised with the anxiety facing students this year, Ó Dochartaigh also pointed to the inflation of college course points in recent years, which he attributed to accredited grades.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has commented that the traditional exam will go ahead this year “with some modifications”.