Written answers

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Department of Education and Skills

State Examinations

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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166. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will commit to a deadline when a decision and details of assessment for examinations cohorts, that is, junior certificate, leaving certificate applied and leaving certificate students, will be communicated due to the intense stress and uncertainty facing the students; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9011/21]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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On Wednesday 17 February I confirmed that Leaving Certificate 2021 written examinations will proceed in accordance with the normal timetable, subject to public health advice, and that oral and practical examinations and coursework would run as close to normal as possible. I also announced that students will also have the alternative option of applying for grades accredited by the State Examinations Commission (SEC), to be known as SEC-Accredited Grades, which will be issued to students at the same time as the examination results. Students who receive grades from both processes will automatically be awarded the higher grade on a subject by subject basis.

This decision follows intensive engagement with education stakeholders, both bilaterally and through the Advisory Group on Planning for State Examinations 2021.

This decision announced ensures for every student a method to assess their learning and attainment at the end of their post-primary education and to progress to higher and further education, and the world of work.

Putting in place both the examinations and a corresponding measure of SEC-Accredited Grades is essential to ensuring a fair system, having regard to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic and the loss of learning that has occurred for this group of students due to the interruption of in-person teaching and learning during the periods of school closure.

Students will be required to register for the traditional examinations and/or to receive SEC Accredited Grades. Registration for both will take place through an online Student Portal operated by the SEC. Details regarding registration will be announced as soon as possible.

The timetable for the written examinations in June will be published shortly by the State Examinations Commission. As far as possible, access to these examinations will be provided for very high risk students.

Schools will receive guidance, informed by public health advice, on organising examination centres for the June examinations.

Oral examinations will be held during the Easter holidays or shortly after. Practical examinations will be held in most of the subjects where these form a normal part of the examination. In some subjects the holding of practical examinations may not be possible for public health reasons and this will be advised as soon as possible. Guidance on projects will issue to schools and students shortly.

Guidelines and further information on the process of SEC Accredited Grades will be published in the coming days. This will include a full guide for schools and an explanatory guide for students.

The results of the traditional examinations and the SEC Accredited Grades process are intended to be issued in time for CAO Round 1 offers. Where students opt to receive SEC accredited grades and to take the normal examinations, they will be awarded the better grades across the two forms of assessment, on a subject by subject basis.

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