New plans being drawn up by the Department of Education will see Leaving Certificate examinations take place in 2021 alongside a “corresponding non-examination process.”
Education Minister Norma Foley said State examinations during the Covid-19 pandemic will involve the “two distinct processes”.
The Minister has invited education stakeholders for bilateral discussions with Department officials to progress the plans, with discussions on Junior Cycle examinations also set to continue from this weekend.
In a statement, the Department of Education said discussions would be “focused and immediate,” with the Minister aiming to provide clear information to students on both approaches as soon as possible.
“We will be actively planning both to hold the Leaving Certificate examinations, and to put in place a corresponding measure that can also be offered to students,” Minister Foley said.
“Examinations need to be available to students. Given the impact on learning for students both last year and this year, there is also a need to explore a parallel approach which can be offered to students.”
Minister Foley said any corresponding measure “should have the confidence of the education partners.”
“Last year a process was put in place that involved schools generating estimated marks and the application of a national standardisation process. This allowed students to progress,” she said, adding that any “corresponding measure” this year would need to incorporate new features.
These would include providing the State Examinations Commission with the necessary legal powers to run the process, and providing “more comprehensively” for students studying outside school.
Recognising the “skills and competences” associated with orals, practicals and coursework would also need to form a clearer part of the measure, Minister Foley said.
We must provide our students with a clear way to progress to the next stage in life
TUI calls for Leaving Cert exams to go ahead
The Minister said she was committed to working with all education partners to achieve the non-examination option, but cautioned that there was “no perfect answer to what is a very challenging situation”.
“The situation is not identical to last year and so any solutions that we consider need to be appropriate for this year’s cohort,” she said.
“We must provide our students with a clear way to progress to the next stage in life — further and higher education and training or the world of work.”
The development comes as schools around the country remain shuttered following the Republic’s third surge of Covid-19 infection.