“Our mental health has really paid the price for the last two years of this pandemic and these future defining exams are only making matters worse.”
A group of Leaving Cert students are campaigning for their exams to be a hybrid mix of seated exams and predicted grades. They are planning a social media protest for the 19th of January, the same day the Daíl will be returning.
Using the #hybridlc2022 hashtag they hope to be trending on Twitter that day, as they begin their movement on Instagram and Twitter.
The group told Her how circumstances are still different for them, any still difficult.
“Not only did we miss three months of fifth year, but we have also missed huge amounts of school due to being close contacts, and testing positive for Covid,” they said. “Some students are suffering from long Covid and are too unwell to attend school, and we have had a large number of teacher absences.”
This new hybrid model is the same that last year’s 6th-year students were offered. It gives students the option of sitting the traditional Leaving Cert exam, opting for predicted grades or a mixture of both. These options can be interchanged between subjects.
A survey by the Irish Second-level Students Union (ISSU) has found that 68% of Leaving Cert students are in favour of a hybrid model.
Some politicians have already endorsed the campaign. Labour TD, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has urged people to sign his party’s petition to urge the government to act on the issue, while Fine Gael senator Regina Doherty spoke with campaigners from the group on the Huncertainty podcast.
“You can’t do a normal Leaving Cert when you haven’t had a normal educational experience for the last two years,” she said.
Speaking to RTÉ, ISSU President, Emer Neville supported the hybrid route also.
“We are calling on the Department of Education to hear the voice of students, who are continuing their education in abnormal times,” she said. “With the levels of disruptions, mental health pressures, and classes missed, we are asking the minister to introduce a hybrid model for state examinations.”
Some changes have been made to the Leaving Cert this year due to the disruption that students’ education faced. They will have added choices in exam questions and only have to study half of the sraith pictiúr for the Irish oral exam.
Taoiseach Mícheál Martin has said that the hybrid option has not yet been ruled out and the government will make a decision shortly.