Below is a reply (5/05/2020) by the Minister for Education and Skills to Dáil Questions in relation to Leaving Certificate 2020 Examinations.
|4.880||To ask the Minister for Education when it is proposed to finalise all arrangements for the Leaving Certificate 2020 Examinations and if he will make a statement on the matter.||Brendan Smith|
Beidh na cinntí maidir le reáchtáil na scrúduithe Ardteistiméireachta bunaithe ar an gcomhairle ó shaineolaithe sláinte na Roinne Sláinte. Eiseofar Treoir chuig scoileanna agus na hiarratasóirí maidir leis seo.
Agus iad ag gníomhú ar chomhairle sláinte poiblí ar mhaithe le gach éinne atá bainteach leis, beidh Coimisiún na Scrúduithe Stáit (CSS) ag obair leis na páirtithe leasmhara chun bearta cosanta a chur in áit ag am na scrúduithe chun riosca ionfhabhtuithe na n-iarratasóirí, na bhfeitheoirí agus foirne eile scoile a íodlaghdú.
Tá sé i gceist go bhfillfidh na scoláirí Ardteistiméireachta ar scoil dhá sheachtain ar a laghad sula dtosnóidh na scrúduithe. Tabharfaidh sé sin coicís do na scoláirí socrú ar ais ar scoil, ar aghaidh a chéile sna ranganna lena múinteoirí, ionas gur féidir leo ullmhúchán a dhéanamh do na scrúduithe, agus an caillteanas oideachasúil a d’fhulaing na scoláirí le linn na tréimhe inar chaill siad amach ar an scolaíocht, a mhaolú.
Tá imscrúdú á dhéanamh anois ar shaincheisteanna éagsúla a bhaineann leis an bplean teagmhais do na scrúduithe stáit 2020, ag an ngrúpa comhairliúcháin de pháirithe leasmhara a bunaíodh chun cabhrú le mo Roinn-se. Tá an grúpa tar éis bualadh lena chéile arís agus arís eile agus tá cruinnithe breise pleanáilte.
Decisions regarding how the rescheduled Leaving Certificate examinations will be run will be based on current health advice and will put the best interests of students first. Intensive work has been underway at the State Examinations Commission and within my Department to plan for the delivery of the Leaving Certificate examinations in July/August 2020.
As part of planning for the State examinations, I have also established an advisory group of stakeholders, including representatives of students, parents, teachers, the management and leadership of schools, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the State Examinations Commission, and officials of my Department, including the National Educational Psychological Service. A representative of the Higher Education Authority is also attending all meetings of the Advisory Group. This group is providing important advice to me that assists me and the State Examinations Commission in decision-making about the examinations. I wish to acknowledge the positive engagement with unions, management bodies, the further education and training and higher education sectors on all of the issues involved. I met with this group last week to discuss their recommendations regarding the Junior Cycle and look forward to meeting them shortly regarding their discussions on the arrangements for the Leaving Cert.
State Examinations Commission has also engaged with the management authorities of schools to examine the many practical and logistical challenges that would arise in the running of the examinations.
The final arrangements for the Leaving Certificate examinations, including the examination timetable, arrangements at the examination centres, social distancing and other measures, and arrangements for course work and practical examinations, will be determined by the SEC on foot of public health advice prior to the end of the first week in June. Guidance in this regard will be issued to schools and to candidates.
Students with special educational needs can have special arrangements made for them while sitting the examinations, through the scheme of reasonable accommodation operated by the State Examinations Commission (SEC). This can include the provision to undertake the examination in a special examination centre.
The SEC will be working with the school stakeholders to put in place safeguards in schools at examinations time in order to minimise the risk of infection to candidates, superintendents and other school staff, acting at all times on public health advice in the best interests of all involved.
It is likely that some students may be unable to attend examination centres on health grounds, as they may be ill or in quarantine or isolation, or because they have had to return abroad to their family homes. The SEC and the Department are considering appropriate alternative arrangements or contingencies so that candidates in this situation are not disadvantaged compared to their peers.
The intention is that Leaving Cert students will return to school at least two weeks before the exams begin. This will give students two weeks class time, face to face with their teachers, to settle back in to the school, to prepare for the exams and to help mitigate the educational loss suffered by them over the period of missed schooling. The dates for submission of certain project work and coursework were also put back to just before the start of the rescheduled written examinations. My Department, in conjunction with representatives of school management and other stakeholders, is examining the various logistical requirements around the return to school by Leaving Certificate students.
The revised Leaving Certificate examination timetable will be confirmed by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) in early June. I recently announced that these examinations would commence on 29th July. I acknowledge that running the examinations will be very challenging for all involved and my Department is also looking at options in relation to contingency arrangements. These will also be considered by the advisory group. It is not appropriate to rule any option out given the uncertainty around the pandemic and the associated health advice.