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'Expect litigation from Leaving Cert chaos - it can't be done fairly'


Doubts: Marie Cormican, of Mount Sackville Secondary School, Chapelizod, Dublin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Doubts: Marie Cormican, of Mount Sackville Secondary School, Chapelizod, Dublin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Doubts: Marie Cormican, of Mount Sackville Secondary School, Chapelizod, Dublin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Students are giving mixed views about the decision to cancel the Leaving Cert in favour of predictive grading by teachers.

Among their chief concerns is the fairness of the marking system.

One Dublin Leaving Cert student says she doesn't believe the Irish education system has the ability to predict grades fairly.

Castleknock teenager Marie Cormican (18) is a Leaving Cert candidate at Mount Sackville Secondary School, Chapelizod, Dublin.

She said: "I have read a litany of open letters and editorials trumpeting the 'fairness' of such a method.

"The Irish education system is one of the best in the world, but simply does not have the infrastructure to predict grades fairly.

"In the UK, students are aware from the beginning of the two-year A-Level cycle that every piece of work is being scrutinised.

"Students sit two sets of official mocks before their main exams and have already secured college places on a preliminary basis."

Marie believed attempts to implement such a system in Ireland would result in "chaos".

"This system is far from perfect. Over 75pc of predicted grades turn out to be inaccurate and that is within a battle-hardened administration. Imagine the chaos such would bring if implemented in Ireland.

"I shudder to think of the onslaught of legal battles and litigation that would ensue. It is both unfair and unprofessional to place this burden on teachers."

She said although the thought of having to sit exams in late summer is unprecedented, so is the virus. "Sitting a physical exam and standardised paper trumps all options as by far the fairest," she said.

Meanwhile, Joseph Murray (18), from Knock, Co Mayo, said the decision to cancel the Leaving Cert came as a "bit of a shock" to him.

"No matter what happened, I always thought the exams would go ahead somehow," said Joseph, who is a Leaving Cert student in St Louis Community School in Kiltimagh.

"The calculated grades model will not suit everyone and it is certainly not a perfect solution, but in the midst of a pandemic I don't think anything could be.

"However, the seemingly robust appeals process and giving students the option to sit an exam at a later date at least provides everyone with an option. It may not be ideal, but it ensures no one is being backed into a corner."

Joseph said he is "relieved" to finally have clarity on what is happening after weeks of uncertainty.

"The last number of weeks have been rife with anxiety, doubt and speculation, so to receive a definite answer has alleviated a significant amount of my stress," he said.

"Of course, the summer months are still going to be full of uncertainty for us all. This year is no different in that regard. The wait for results is undoubtedly going to feel like a lifetime.

"The usual reassurance for students of knowing how they have performed on the day of the exam is also going to be sorely missed. The idea of being ranked against your peers is going to be anxiety-inducing for the best of us."

Candidates who want to sit traditional exams will also be accommodated at a later date.

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