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Gary Gannon TD

This year is not a normal year, so we cannot have a ‘normal’ Leaving Cert

The decision not to proceed with a hybrid Leaving Cert this year is a crushing blow for students and their families, according to Social Democrats Education Spokesperson Gary Gannon.

“This year’s Leaving Cert students have suffered two years of upheaval and chaos because of covid. There have been lengthy school closures and persistent absences, of both students and teachers, due to illness caused by covid and the requirement to self-isolate. We must also acknowledge the incredible stress, and anxiety, that students have been under as a consequence of covid.

“This year is not a normal year, so we cannot have a ‘normal’ Leaving Cert. The lived experience of Leaving Cert students, throughout these unprecedented two years, must be acknowledged by Minister for Education Norma Foley. It cannot be business as usual – simply because that makes life easier for the Minister and her Department.

“Leaving Cert students must be at the centre of the decision-making process when it comes to charting a plan for this year’s exams. The fact remains, the overwhelming majority of students want a hybrid exam. It should also be noted that Ombudsman for Children Niall Muldoon has also publicly supported the students in this regard.

“Students in previous years, whose education was seriously disrupted due to covid, were accommodated with a hybrid Leaving Cert. This was not an easy process to organise, but it was the right thing to do. It was a recognition of the fact that students did not experience the pandemic equally, with disadvantaged and marginalised students suffering disproportionate impacts to their education.

“This year’s students are not asking for special treatment. They simply want to be treated in the same manner as other students, in previous years, whose education was seriously impacted by the pandemic. It is a crushing blow, for these students and their families, that the Minister has failed to accede to their reasonable requests to have a hybrid Leaving Cert. The Minister must reverse this callous decision, which is already causing students and their families extreme upset and anxiety.”

1 February, 2022


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