EVEN though they know that they won’t be sitting their tests in early June, due to the postponement of the Leaving Certificate examinations, it remains a worrying time for students because they still have no certainty as to when the exams will go ahead. Making the announcement of the deferral on Good Friday, acting Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh – understandably due to the public health situation – could not state for certain when they can go ahead other than expressing the hope that it would be in late July or early August and that the 61,000 Leaving Cert and 3,000 Leaving Cert Applied students would have at least two weeks back in school before the start of the exams.
One thing the Minister, along with the State Examinations Commission and the Department of Education and Skills, was adamant about was that there would be Leaving Cert exams to determine college places, which would mean that the intake of first years to third-level colleges would be much later for the next academic year. Because teachers are involved in the marking of the exam papers, there may even be a later start for second-level schools next autumn, depending on when the Leaving Cert exams go ahead.
Less satisfactory is the cancellation – as opposed to the postponement – of the Junior Certificate exams for this year. They are to be replaced by assessments in the schools, but if these are later re-opening, it will curtail the students’ transition year somewhat.
Not having the Leaving and Junior Cert exams on at the same time, will free up more space in the examination venues to allow for greater social distancing between Leaving Cert candidates. In the meantime, for them, it’s a case of plenty more time to get on with studying.