— By Noel Keenan
Members of Parents’ Associations are gravely concerned about the continuing lack of certainty being endured by Leaving Cert and Leaving Cert Applied candidates and their families.
Our members are seriously disturbed that Leaving Cert and Leaving Cert Applied candidates and their families still have no concrete, definitive information about the staging of the Leaving Certificate Examination.
The information as published by the DES and Minister McHugh is fluid, and this is adding to the anxiety and stress that candidates are experiencing at present. This is demonstrated by the messages from distraught parents that are conveyed to the ETBsNPA organisation daily.
The ETBsNPA respectfully suggests that the term “Predictive Grades” be removed from the conversation and be replaced by the term “Recorded Results”.
There is currently no tradition of recording Predictive Grades in the education system in Ireland. The term is adding confusion and creating unnecessary debate, therefore the term should become redundant in the present crisis – that is the strong view of the ETBsNPA.
However, every school has a record of results that can be utilised to ascertain the potential of each student.
Our suggestion is that the results of the Junior Cycle, Christmas, Summer Examinations, in addition to the classwork and homework records held by teachers, should all feature in establishing a performance assessment for the students.
The Mock Examinations should not feature as many parents and guardians have reservations regarding the circulation and correction of the Pre-Examination papers.
The ETBsNPA would welcome the holding of a conversation, the equivalent to a Junior Cycle SLAR meeting, whereby the teachers of individual students would present a consensus assessment based on “Recorded Results”, motivation, attitude, work rate, Special Needs and other relevant factors that are “recorded” in the professional opinions of the teaching staff and the management of a school.
The ETBsNPA would welcome a suggested weighting, to be agreed by the relevant stakeholders, for the various areas as listed above, to give a nationwide measure of uniformity.
There is no ideal solution – we accept that – but a solution must be proffered to end the torturous worry and acute anxiety being experienced by families at present.
Should a student wish to pursue a third level qualification, it would be advisable that the required subjects – two or three depending on the course – should be examined in a written examination scenario.
That examination could be staged by the SEC or the third-level institution in tandem with an interview to ascertain the suitability of the candidate for a third-level course. An appeal process should feature if students are not happy with the outcome.
The above suggestion would reduce the number of candidates for a written examination, thus ensuring “physical distancing” in an Examination Centre, while giving candidates an equitable opportunity to have a sense of achievement and a reassurance that they have merited and have been awarded a place on a third level course.
The ETBsNPA is aware that a staging of written examinations will necessitate logistical problems for institutions, but it is imperative that a solution is reached before depression and anxiety increase – which, sadly, could lead to tragedy for some family units.
There is a further concern that is featuring in conversations with parents – the fear of spreading Covid from an Examination Centre to someone’s home.
ETBsNPA, as an organisation, dreads the possibility of learning of the death of a student or adult due to contact with the Covid Virus in an Examination Centre.
Parents and guardians who contact the ETBsNPA speak of fear, anxiety, dwindling of confidence and motivation, despair, self-harm issues, suicidal tendencies, lack of equity, and a catalogue of other serious concerns.
Please listen to the Parent Voice and the Student Voice – end the uncertainty.