Former mayor calls for immediate clarification on Leaving Cert as there is “far too much uncertainty”

Photo courtesy of Cllr Níall McNelis

Labour city councillor, Niall McNelis has made the call after a petition in favour of clarification and reform collected over 10,000 signatures.

Cllr McNelis is in favour of the hybrid exam structure being a permanent fixture for Irish secondary school students.

“As a result of the pandemic, we’ve got this once in a lifetime opportunity to seriously review the structure of the final exams. We need to take this chance and push for reform,” said Cllr McNelis.

When speaking of the risks involved, he said, “It’s inevitable that if reform does happen, that teachers across the country will have a much bigger workload. We are not inventing the wheel. Its time to follow suit of plenty of other countries.”

“I don’t think a reform would be without risks. If done well, and the correct stakeholders are used then a reform has great potential,” Cllr McNelis said.

A recent survey published by the Irish Second-Level Students Union revealed that two-thirds of students are in favour of the move to a hybrid grading system.

Callum Fawdry, a spokesperson for the ISSU, said, “I know people are questioning the validity of predicted grades. I believe that a series of smaller exams throughout the school year is a far more effective and fair approach.”

“I also think that there should be more weight added to practical subjects, such as art or woodwork for example. Most of the emphasis is placed on purely academic subjects, which is very unfair,” Mr. Fawdry said.

“The turning point for reform for me, would be if a student who has lived through the predicted grades system was to get elected in the near future. It’s easier to sympathise when it’s a situation that you have lived through yourself, as opposed to someone who did their Leaving Cert a decade ago,” said Fawdry.

“As a union, we are very diverse, and we see the potential in each subject. We would be seeking for an equilibrium on all subjects across the board, ideally,” Mr. Fawdry said when speaking of the ISSU.

Cllr McNelis said that Minister for Education, Norma Foley, must make a decision soon, as “the mock exams are fast approaching, and students are under a tremendous amount of pressure as it is”.

“I left school years ago and I still break out in a sweat when I think about the Leaving Cert. Something needs to be done,” said Cllr. McNelis.

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