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The Leaving Cert will go ahead, but what will it look like?

The Government has unveiled the plan for the 2021 Leaving Certificate, which involves the use of calculated grades for students.

by Jennifer McShane
18th Feb 2021

The Government has announced that this year’s Leaving Certificate will go ahead with students having the option to apply for State Examinations Commission accredited grades.

Leaving Certificate students are expected to be given an option of a calculated grade or a written exam in each subject. Students who decide to take an exam will receive whichever result is higher between their calculated grade and the result from the written exam.  The overall result will be given on the day of the results and students will not receive the calculated grade before they sit their exam.

A fair system 

The proposals offered “a system that is fair and that provides the opportunity for real progression for students,” said Minister for Education Norma Foley of the plans on Wednesday evening.

According to a Government spokesperson, holding both the Leaving Certificate and a corresponding measure of SEC-Accredited Grades is, “essential to ensuring a fair system.”

“As requested by the student representatives we explored thoroughly the option of providing the SEC-Accredited Grades to students in advance of the written examinations, but this option is not possible,” Foley said in a statement.

“I am conscious that many students are concerned that they have not covered the full curriculum for their subjects in class, due to the interruption of in-person learning caused by the pandemic. Everyone wants a system that is fair and that provides the opportunity for real progression for students.”

In terms of both oral and practical exams, oral exams are expected to be held during the Easter break or soon after, while for some subjects, practical exams will not be possible due to public health concerns – full details of this have yet to be announced but revised schedules will be in the coming weeks. Coursework for certain subjects will also take place. Those who opt for calculated grades will not have to take oral exams or practicals

When will the exams take place?

It is envisaged that the Leaving Cert exams will take place during the traditional period in June, though this will naturally be subject to public health advice. The timetable is due to be by the State Examinations Commission on Thursday.

Junior Cert examinations will not take place, allowing greater physical space for Leaving Cert students to sit the exams.

It is expected that a phased reopening of schools is being planned from March 1st, and that from February 22nd, almost 3,000 secondary schools will resume classes for students with special needs.