Leaving Cert exams suspended until late July/early August, Junior Cert exams cancelled 4 months ago

Leaving Cert exams suspended until late July/early August, Junior Cert exams cancelled

The news was confirmed on Friday.

The Leaving Certificate examinations have been suspended until late July or early August, subject to public health advice, the Department of Education confirmed on Friday.

The Department of Education also confirmed that this summer’s Junior Certificate examinations have been cancelled, and will be replaced by school-based exams and assessments early in the new school year.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD announced the above measures amongst a series of changes to the 2020 State Examinations, measures taken on foot of updated advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to respond to the Covid-19 emergency.

McHugh confirmed that schools will remain closed until further notice and that practical examinations for Leaving Certificate students, due to have been held in May, are deferred and will be rescheduled for late July/early August.

The intention, McHugh said, is to allow at least two weeks of class time, in school, before the Leaving Certificate examinations begin.

The new Leaving Certificate exam timetable will be confirmed in early June.

Speaking on Friday, Minister McHugh said: “All decisions we are taking in relation to rescheduling exams are based on current public health advice and put the best interests of students first. The welfare of students and that of their families is front and centre in all decision making.

“The final arrangements for the exams, the exam centres, social distancing and other measures will all be determined by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) on foot of public health advice in June. I want to thank the SEC for its efforts to put in place these revised arrangements.

“Students and their families have been seeking clarity. Today’s announcement addresses that. It also provides them with several weeks of advance notice to prepare for the examinations. I hope it helps to alleviate some stress being experienced by students and their families at this time.

“Asking Leaving Certificate students and their families to refocus their attention from June to August is not something we do lightly. I know it will not be easy. However, I believe it is the fairest way of assessing students and giving them certification of achievement in school and a pathway to higher and further education and training, apprenticeship or work.”

"Students with special educational needs will be fully supported in sitting the rescheduled Leaving Certificate examinations in line with the reasonable accommodations as already arranged for them,” McHugh added.

McHugh praised teachers, principals and school staff for their commitment to supporting students, saying: “Great work is being done by schools and teachers to connect with students and to keep them learning.

“We must give teachers, principals and school staff huge credit for their commitment to supporting students, in their schoolwork and in their wellbeing. And we want to provide students and teachers with an opportunity to build on that,” he added.

Commenting on the impact that the delayed Leaving Certificate will have on students’ third-level aspirations next year, Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “The third level institutions look forward to welcoming this year’s Leaving Certificate students who have applied to enter their courses. I appreciate the particular challenges these students have had to face and I welcome the flexible approach indicated by the sector to enabling these students to take up a place in the year ahead.”

The admissions process for higher education, managed by the Central Applications Office (CAO), will operate as closely as possible to the usual timeframe for offers and the entry date for first year students will be delayed.

The Department of Education has asked the Higher Education Authority and the higher education sector to explore ways of assisting access to higher education for students from under-represented groups.