Students may have had to wear masks and gloves if the Leaving Cert exams took place in July, Education Minister Joe McHugh has said.
The Minister told the Dáil today that students’ exam experience would have been unlike any other year and the papers would have been “unrecognisable” if they went ahead on the postponed date.
Minister McHugh’s comments came amid calls for clarity on the logistics of this year’s Leaving Cert predictive grades calculations and on school profiling.
The Minister said there would be fundamental issues of fairness and physical health if the exams proceeded in July.
“It would not be the exam experience which students would have prepared for and would have had an expectation of sitting before this crisis hit,” Minister McHugh said.
“It would not compare to the Leaving Certificate in any other year, potentially involving students wearing masks and gloves sitting exams, superintendents requiring PPE and the prospect of exam papers having to be redesigned to such an extent that they would be unrecognisable compared to what students had spent two years preparing for.”
Labour Party TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called on the Minister to publish the health advice which informed his decision to postpone exams. “It seems very unlikely that any school is going to open in September given that we can’t have State exams in August,” Ó Ríordáin TD said.
Minister McHugh criticised Deputy Ó Ríordáin’s suggestion that the Leaving Cert system weighed against disadvantaged schools, branding the comments as “peddling”.
The Department of Education and teacher and school bodies are set to publish further information and guidance on how the calculated grading system will work.
Meanwhile, teacher unions and management bodies are calling for legal protection for teachers and school leaders and protection from lobbying or canvassing.