News & Media

Early decision on Leaving Cert 2022 needed – choice vital

23 July 2021

Statement by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
Spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade

Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called on the Minister to allow a choice of written exams and accredited grades for the Leaving Cert class of 2022. Speaking during the education committee, Deputy Ó Ríordáin said an early decision must be made on this to provide clarity for students, teachers and parents in advance of returning to the classroom in September. With a greater lead in time, schools and students will be better equipped to ensure robust data is available for the calculation of grades, and students can decide which exams they want to sit earlier in the year.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“The Minister must make a decision regarding Leaving Cert 2022 in advance of schools returning in September. We can prevent lot of uncertainty and acknowledge the loss of months of in-school tuition by giving the class of 2022 the same choice as that of the class of 2021. This cohort of students have already lost a lot of time of in class teaching and an early decision would enable everyone to hit the ground running when term begins.

“We remain in an uncertain time with Covid at the moment. Many of us looking across the water at the UK’s high case level will be concerned. While we are all hopeful that the vaccination roll out will have reached our younger people, we cannot rely on faith and hope. An early decision will ensure that everyone in the school community will be clear on the pathway for the year. Indeed, with a greater lead in time, schools and students will be better equipped to ensure robust data is available for the calculation of grades, and students can decide which exams they want to sit earlier in the year.

“It would also be useful if the Department would publish the independent review of the 2020 leaving cert. This could provide more clarity and offer guidance for schools. We have also heard anecdotal evidence from higher education institutions that this year’s first years performed much better than had been anticipated, given their experience of home studying. Institutions are highlighting the fundamental resilience of our young people to adapt to new ways of learning and engaging with material which is hugely welcome.

“One positive outcome of the pandemic is how it’s made us challenge and change things we previously took for granted. In light of this, and in order to redress the imbalance that currently exists in the 'be all and end all' exams currently in place, we need to get serious about reforming the current leaving cert. The option of choice for the leaving cert has really changed the experience for students and shows that change is possible. Any reform must be carried out in consultation with young people in particular, and I want to acknowledge the great work ISSU continue to do on this.

“We need an education system that works for our young people; one that develops skills and pathways to a range of options for graduates from apprentices to PLCs to university. We must be guided by our young people in this process.

“The stress and anxiety endured by 6th year students throughout the pandemic has been well aired. We need to take a proactive approach to protect the class of 2022 and facilitate the choice between accredited grades and sitting exams.”