09 Dec 2021

'Leaving Cert students have lost enormous learning time,' says Waterford councillor

'Leaving Cert students have lost enormous learning time,' says Waterford councillor

Cllr Conor D McGuinness has said the uncertainty over Leaving Certificate cannot continue

Waterford's Cllr Conor D McGuinness has said the Government must listen to students and give them an input on how their Leaving Certificate will take place.

The Sinn Féin councillor said the past year has been "very difficult" for everyone including children and young people in education.

"Leaving Cert students have been hit with uncertainty and confusion," he said.

"Sinn Féin has engaged with thousands of Leaving Cert students including with representative organisations such as the ISSU. They are understandably anxious and stressed. They do not feel like they are being kept in the loop.

“They are calling out for clarity and for their voices to be heard. Sinn Féin has listened. It is clear that students want a choice between alternative means of assessment and an exam for those who wish to sit one.

“The Minister talks about a traditional Leaving Cert, but she must recognise the realities. This has not been a traditional year. Students have lost enormous learning time last year and this year again, and it is at this point unclear when students will be back in the classroom.

“Not knowing what is happening is putting huge pressure on students, and I know from speaking to them and their families that it is seriously impacting on their mental health. The Government urgently needs to give clarity to them," he continued. 

Cllr McGuinness said the lack of contingency planning is "alarming". "The Minister needs to set out a plan now to ensure that we don’t see a repeat of last year’s fiasco," he said. 

“If calculated grades are going to be used, then there are fairer ways of checking the accuracy of these grades. The Minister must urgently exam these and ensure that unfair school profiling and algorithms are not used.

“I also recognise that many students may still want to sit written Leaving Cert exams. These students must also be facilitated, pending public health advice. The Department of Education must do all they can to ensure that students have this choice to make.

“If a decision is made quickly, then all students can avail of CAO and UCAS offers this Autumn, regardless of their choice.

“The Minister needs to urgently engage with all stakeholders, and to take the necessary steps to facilitate this choice.

“Sinn Féin want to be constructive. We will work with the Minister and all stakeholders and other parties to ensure that Leaving Cert students are given a choice, and will continue to work hard to give students a voice.”

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