Education Minister makes Leaving Cert Covid-19 announcement on orals and exams

Leinster Express Reporter


Leinster Express Reporter

coronavirus covid-19

Exam time.

The Department of Education is working on the basis that the Leaving Cert will go ahead but it has announced that full marks will be given to all students in the oral examinations due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Language students will receive marks of 100% in lieu of orals in Irish and modern European languages, according to the Minister for Education Joe McHugh.

The orals were due to begin on 23 March but have now been cancelled. The exam is worth 40% of overall marks in Irish, and 25% in modern European languages.

The deadline for submission of practical and coursework for the Leaving Cert has been extended to 15 May.

No decision has yet been made in relation to when schools might reopen, or on June's leaving certificate exams.

Mr McHugh says they are working on the basis that the written exams as part of the leaving cert will still go ahead.

He said the flexibility being adopted will ease the pressure on students who have to carry out schoolwork at home.

“This is a difficult time for all. Students are facing a challenging period out of school and our decision on this element of the exams is being taken with their best interests at heart. 

“It is the fairest response we could take in the circumstances. It guarantees that no student will score less than they would have if schools had been operating as normal. 

“We have seen a new emphasis on remote learning amid the uncertainty about the impact of Covid-19 and the closure of all schools. I hope this decision will ease some of the pressure that students are feeling and allow them to focus more clearly on completing project work and preparing for written exams,” said the Minister in a statement.

Oral tests in Leaving Certificate included Irish and the Modern Languages of French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Japanese. 

Minister McHugh also confirmed changes to deadlines for students to complete project work and coursework in a number of subjects. 

Students were originally scheduled to complete these elements of the state examinations on a number of dates from Friday 20 March to Friday 24 April 2020, depending on the subject. 

Students will now be given until Friday 15 May 2020 to complete this work. 

Minister McHugh said: “We know we are asking a lot of people in order to stem the spread of Covid-19. In response to that I want students and their parents or guardians and teachers to be given flexibility as they work towards the exams. 

“All of Government is hugely grateful for the effort, commitment and energy that students and teachers are putting in to continue education in difficult circumstances. I urge you all to keep up the momentum and focus on preparing for the exams.” 

Minister McHugh also said the Department will continue to work with the State Examinations Commission to monitor the Covid-19 situation in terms of its potential impact on the other later scheduled components of the state examinations. 

“We will continue to respond at the right time and in the right way, with the impact on our students at the forefront of our minds,” Minister McHugh said. More below tweet.

The Minister also advised of steps taken by the Department to minimise the impact on teaching and learning of the current school closures. All schools have been asked to continue to plan lessons and, where possible, provide online resources for students or online lessons where schools are equipped to do so. Schools have also been asked to be conscious of students that may not have access to online facilities and to consider this actively in their responses. School buildings are available to staff if they wish to access the facilities in order to provide online delivery, or essential services once this is in line with Health Service Executive (HSE) advice.  

The Department of Education and Skills says it will continue to provide supports to the education sector at this time, particularly schools with students taking State examinations. 

The Department of Education and Skills says it has been liaising closely on a continual basis with the Department of Health in relation to Coronavirus/Covid-19 since early January. This will continue.