“This is not the preferred option of students, with just 9% of Junior Cycle and 19% of Leaving Cert students opting for it as a first preference.”
Following an announcement today by Minister for Education Joe McHugh regarding the postponement of State Examination, the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) issued the following statement:
“The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union, the national representative body for second-level students, acknowledges the recent announcement regarding the 2020 State Examinations by the Minister for Education and Skills.
“While some clarity has come with the confirmation that exams will not continue as normal in June, the ISSU is concerned that the proposals put forward have not yet been ironed out, and that student welfare needs to be adequately considered in the proposal.
“We recognise the difficulty and work involved in making such decisions is monumental at this time however we feel that there are a number of factors still needing clarification before this contingency plan is implemented.
“The ISSU’s survey results, released on April 3rd and including the views of over 46,000 students, showed clearly that postponement of exams was not the preferred option of students, with just 9% of Junior Cycle and 19% of Leaving Cert students opting for it as a first preference. Among the reasons supplied for this low favourability were the unparalleled additions of stress and anxiety on students, discrepancies in the quality assurance of educational supports, and the infeasibility of matching this calendar to students wishing to progress with their education abroad.
“The ISSU is seriously concerned about the effects this decision will have on students’ mental health and wellbeing. No additional supports have been announced as of yet to help exam year students navigate through this extension of examinations. We are hopeful that the Department will take this as a top priority to implement a programme to support all stakeholders through this stressful and uncertain time.
“This decision leaves many questions unanswered regarding exam dates, project deadlines and the value of unfinished continuous assessment in any final grade. The amount of face to face class time before exams cannot yet be defined due to the nature of HSE guideline announcements, and the provision in place for Junior Cycle exams leaves questions about how the 2020/21 year will progress for LCA and continuing 5th year students.
“The ISSU is disappointed that the student voice was not sufficiently consulted before this decision was finalised, despite students being the stakeholder most affected and being highly engaged over the last number of weeks. Many questions still remain to be answered, and the ISSU wishes to work with the Department and other stakeholders to ensure these are answered clearly with student health and welfare at the heart of the decisions.”
The Irish Universities Association (IUA) welcomed the announcement of the revised plans for holding this year’s Leaving Certificate examinations and the clarity this brings for students, their families and their schools.
“Our universities will now work with the CAO and other stakeholders to ensure that new university students can begin their studies as soon as possible after the publication of the 2020 Leaving Certificate results. This work and all planning for the 2020-21 academic year will continue to be guided by the latest public health advice.
“We wish all of the students every success and we look forward to welcoming those who choose our universities as the next stage of their education in a brighter post-Covid crisis context.”
Following the announcement around the State Examinations, the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) issued the following statement:
“THEA, representing the technological sector, and on behalf of our members, the Institutes of Technology, welcomes this evening’s statement by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD, and the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD.
“We particularly welcome the clarity around arrangements for the 2020 state examinations, and specifically the Leaving Certificate. This brings welcome certainty to families and students who are undertaking the examination this year. We also appreciate the flexibility shown by teachers in order to facilitate these new arrangements.
“THEA institutions recognize that this will impact the academic calendar for incoming first years in the 2020-2021 academic year and we will calibrate accordingly. Our higher education institutions will work with critical partners including the State Examinations Commission and the Central Applications Office over the coming period in order to facilitate that.
“Our institutions’ staff and students have been working hard since the restrictions were first announced to ensure that no student will be disadvantaged or unnecessarily delayed as a result of the COVID-19 emergency and we will work equally hard to ensure that our incoming first years are similarly accommodated.”