A Fine Gael Senator has said that sixth year students, who are due to sit the Leaving Cert this summer, are owed the same compassionate options as students in previous years whose educational experiences have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
Senator Regina Doherty said, “The continuous negative strain that the pandemic has had on so many second-level students has been too significant to ignore. My office has received many emails from young people whose school lives – and as a result, their mental health – have been severely and negatively impacted by the unpredictability of the current climate.
“They have described how hard the last 22 months have been. New restrictions, new cases and close contacts have increased the burden they all feel, having missed so much work and so many in-class experiences. Their social lives and ability to interact with each other, whether during school lunch breaks or outside of school, have also undoubtedly suffered, which may be one of the biggest tragedies of all of this. They say our school days are the best days of our lives, but for the classes of 2022, 2021 and 2020, the ‘doom and gloom’ seems to overshadow everything.
“I appreciate that some allowances have been made for this year’s Leaving Cert students, and I’m sure they do too, but that is nowhere near enough. The decision to grant last year’s students a ‘hybrid’ option, which gave them the option of sitting exams or receiving accredited grades, came as a relief to so many. That is why I am asking the Minister for Education to give strong consideration to running Leaving Cert 2022 on the same hybrid basis as last year. We truly owe it to our students, who I think have been the most resilient among us in these abnormal times, to ease the burden even slightly.
“The hybrid option is a compassionate one, and compassion is what our students deserve right now. As we continue to talk about ways to reform the outdated system in which students complete their education by sitting a series of rigid and seemingly future-defining exams, these more lenient models may be something we can put in place for the future.
“Our immediate focus, however, must be on the wellbeing of this year’s Leaving Cert students. They are living through an unprecedented crisis and facing the consequences every single day, during what is already an extremely stressful time. The Minister can and must act soon, and quickly, to re-implement last year’s model. It’s the least our students deserve”, concluded Senator Doherty.