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 as soon as possible regarding how exams will be held and on the details of the corresponding measures.
“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 continued: “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.”
The Minister said that any “corresponding measure” this year would need to incorporate new features.
“In particular, the State Examinations Commission will need to be given the necessary legal powers to run the process. It will also need to provide more comprehensively for students studying outside school,” she said.
“Recognition of the skills and competences associated with orals, practicals and coursework should also form a clearer part of any such measure.
“Due to the nature of the pandemic, and the need to always have regard to public health advice, in addition to planning actively to hold the Leaving Certificate examinations, it is necessary to have in place a parallel measure that can also be offered to students.
“I am committed to working with all the education partners to achieve this.”
The Minister said 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.”