School leavers to sit a traditional Leaving Cert this summer

Government confirms the Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle to return to exam-based formats

Yesterday, Cabinet confirmed that sixth year secondary students will sit the traditional Leaving Certificate examinations this summer. 

Last year, Leaving Cert students were offered the choice to sit in-person exams or receive accredited grades, with the Junior Cycle cancelled altogether. In 2020, the Leaving Cert was also cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Junior Cycle exams will take place for the first time since 2019, and the Leaving Cert is to return to its pre-pandemic format this June, despite calls for a hybrid assessment model to continue. 

Last month, Leaving Cert students protested outside the Dáil, calling for greater choice in their assessment, after two years of disruption to their education. 

Minister for Education Norma Foley justified the decision by explaining that many of this year’s Leaving Cert students did not sit their Junior Cycle exams in 2020, meaning that the basis for determining their accredited grade would be too limited to be accurate. 

“We would not be in a position to provide for the accredited grades in a system that would be as fair as was provided for last year,” she said. 

Yesterday, Foley said that government had decided written exams would be the fairest option for students, but they would be “radically different” than the traditional Leaving Cert. 

The minister noted that this year’s examinations will both offer a greater choice in questions and cover less content than usual, and that students who have experienced serious illness or bereavement will be offered an alternative set of assessments. 

Foley addressed concerns that the current cohort will struggle to compete for places at college due to grade inflation over the last two years. Foley said that she had asked the State Examinations Commission to ensure the overall set of results in 2022 would match that of last year.

The timetable for the Leaving Cert and Junior Cycle written examinations is set to be published in the coming days.