Wednesday, 19 January 2022
Department of Education and Skills
734. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her plans for the junior certificate in 2022; if it will go ahead; if so, if there will be an option for students to opt in for predicted grades; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [63418/21]
I am conscious that students who are due to take their Junior Cycle/Leaving Certificate examinations in 2022 have experienced a degree of disruption to their learning.
On 30 June 2021, I announced that adjustments would be made to the 2022 Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle examinations. As with previous years, adjustments were developed in conjunction with the Advisory Group on Planning for State Examinations. This Group includes representation from students, parents, teachers and schools.
Details of these adjustments were issued to schools on 19 August 2021 to ensure that students and staff could familiarise themselves with any changes. These arrangements acknowledge the disruption faced by these students because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minister considers that these arrangements are proportionate to the students’ experience and loss of learning, and are educationally appropriate. The adjustments ensure that the overall structure of exams remains intact but allows for greater choice for students. The level of adjustment will be similar to that applied by the Assessment Arrangements for Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate Examinations 2021, as announced in December 2020.
I made a further announcement on 20 December 2021 regarding the arrangements for Leaving Certificate Oral Examinations in Irish and the Modern Foreign Languages and the practical performance tests in Leaving Certificate Music.
These examinations will take place outside of school time over the first week of the school Easter holidays, with the examinations running in schools during the six-day period Saturday 9 April to Thursday 14 April inclusive. Working with the State Examinations Commission (SEC), and the SEC examiners assigned to the school in each subject, schools will have some flexibility in scheduling the examinations during this period based on local needs.
Providing clarity to students on the timing of the examinations will assist them in planning their study and break times. Running the oral examinations before Easter will leave students free over the second week of the Easter holidays.
All aspects of the examinations will be conducted in accordance with the prevailing Public Health advice.
Holding these examinations over Easter and outside of school time will minimise disruption for schools and students.
It is planned that the Junior Cycle Music practical performance test and the Home Economics practical test will take place during school time as normal.
As part of the adjustments for the 2022 examinations, I also announced that an alternative set of Leaving Certificate examinations would be run in 2022, shortly after the conclusion of the main set of examinations. These examinations will be limited to certain students who are unable to sit the main set of examinations due to close family bereavement, COVID 19 illness and certain other categories of serious illness to be determined, with due regard for the principles of equity, fairness and integrity, which govern all aspects of the examinations system.
The State Examinations Commission will issue further details regarding the 2022 examinations, guided by prevailing public health advice.
By way of further information, the Department of Education has provided a suite of guidance materials, agreed with the education partners, to enable schools to mediate the curriculum safely for all pupils/students in a COVID-19 context. These are available at www.gov.ie/backtoschool
The website also contains information on wellbeing supports for Leaving Certificate students. This includes a series of supports on managing wellbeing, coping with uncertainty and managing stress and anxiety, developed by the National Educational Psychological Service in the Department, to support students. The webpage has links to more individualised support for students to access, should these be needed. The Department worked with the Department of Health and the HSE to ensure the most appropriate services and resources are clearly signposted for students. These are available here: www.gov.ie/en/publication/af24b-wellbeing-guidance-documents-for-parents-students-and-schools/?referrer=www.gov.ie/en/publication/0722b-wellbeing-resources/