Group of Leaving Cert students call for exams to be cancelled 3 months ago

Group of Leaving Cert students call for exams to be cancelled

"They ran the A Levels during the War, but they still aren’t running it this year."

A group of over 60 Leaving Cert students are calling for the State Exams to be cancelled and to be replaced by "expected grades" assigned by their classroom teachers.

It comes as students enter a second week of studying from home after all schools and colleges were shut by the government as part of efforts to delay the spread of Covid-19. The proposal takes inspiration from contingency plans put in place by the UK, after they cancelled their equivalent exams last week.

Last week, Minister for Education Joe McHugh cancelled the oral and practical exams for Junior Cycle and Leaving Cert students, announcing that all candidates would receive full marks in these segments.

In terms of the written exams taking place as scheduled, he said "we're aiming and working towards that date of having the Leaving Cert written this June."

With the uncertainty around the exams, a group of Leaving Cert students have put together a proposal that would see the written exams cancelled and replaced by "expected grades" assigned by teachers.

Speaking to JOE, Adam Kelly, winner of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in 2019 and one of the students involved, explained the proposal, saying: "Our idea is basically that you replace the written and practical aspects of the Leaving Cert that still have to be done with a system of estimated grades that would stand in place of the typical grades system.

"The way it would work, hypothetically, is the teachers would be provided with a set of guidelines on how to estimate grades based on evidence, so that could be things from Mock Exams, House Exams, rankings within class, class tests, along with various other factors that are available."

Once these estimations are created, they would then be submitted to the State Examinations Commission for review.

"An appeals system would be available if people felt the process was badly applied to them, or in case they’re not happy and they still want to sit an exam, which could be accommodated due to the reduced amount of numbers," Adam explains.

The proposal is similar to the one being adopted in the UK, where the GCSE and A-Level exams have already been called off. France's International Baccalaureate has also been cancelled.

With exam students now forced to work from home, Adam explains how the landscape has become uneven due to these extreme circumstances.

"Some schools have more resources in place to help the students while they’re out of school," he says.

"Some schools have these sorts of (working from home) systems already done, and they’re already finished courses and now they’re just doing revision. Other schools already have project work done, so they can focus on those last few weeks. So, even if the written exams were run, they wouldn’t necessarily be fair for all students."

The proposal would run only for one year, and Adam argues that these circumstances are so unprecedented that they warrant action, even if what they are proposing is unheard of.

"Even if you look at the UK; they ran the A Levels during the War, but they still aren’t running it this year. It’s a completely different situation that we have never, and hopefully will never, have to deal with again."

All schools in the Republic of Ireland are currently closed until Monday 30 March, although it is widely expected that this will be extended as part of the ongoing measures to delay the spread of Covid-19.