Oisin McGovern and Anton McNulty
A MAYO representative of secondary school pupils believes that the traditional model of the Leaving Cert exams cannot be allowed to go ahead this summer.
The Department of Education have indicated that the traditional Leaving Cert will take place as planned in the summer but an online survey of students carried out by the Irish Second Level Students’ Union found that 68 percent of Leaving Cert students want a hybrid State exam model this year.
Máirin Harding, a student in St Brendan’s College in Belmullet and representative of the Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU) in Mayo, told The Mayo News that a hybrid State exam model must take place this year.
She explained that Covid has caused a lot of disruptions this year in schools and causing anxiety and stress among exam students.
“A big concern is the Leaving and Junior Cert and how it’s going to pan out. I’ve been talking to fellow students recently nationwide and students seem to be gravitating towards a hybrid model because it’s a lot less stress and it gives a bit of clarity on the situation. It’s very uncertain for them at the moment.
“I’m personally not affected by it as I’m in TY but I can’t imagine the stress they are going through. At this point, they’ve missed a lot of the curriculum. A traditional exam system this year is just not possible because of the pandemic. It’s just inevitable that something will have to be done to soothe the situation, whether it’s a hybrid model or a more relaxed exam,” she said.
Students need clarity
The Transition Year student said the current outbreak of Omicron has resulted in a lot of disruption to the mock exams which are to take place next month and students need clarity.
“The cases are high but hopefully we’ve seen the peak last week. It’s still a big concern … with the mocks coming up there’s lots of anxiety and students need more clarity. They deserve it after the abundance of the destruction throughout the past two year. We all deserve a bit of clarity about what’s going to happen but it’s very unpredictable,” she commented.
The ISSU survey in which 68 percent of Leaving Cert students expressed they wanted a hybrid model opened when students returned to classrooms earlier this month and closed on Friday night.
Over 40,900 responses were gathered from students across the country, with one in three senior cycle students in Ireland responding.
Ms Harding also expressed annoyance at the lack of consultation with students on the reopening of schools following the Christmas break and believe students are not being listened to enough.
“We weren’t consulted properly and we believe that the student voice is the most important along with teachers and principals. We know better than anyone how it’s affecting us an our mental wellbeing with exam stress and all. There’s just a lot of anxiety and uncertainty around schools reopening.”