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Leaving Cert orals and music exam in first week of Easter holidays


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The Leaving Cert orals exam in Irish and foreign languages will take place in the first week of the school Easter holidays.

The Department of Education has also confirmed that the Leaving Cert practical performance test in music will take place that week – running from Saturday April 9 to Thursday April 14.

The arrangements were signed off at meeting today of the Advisory Group on Planning for State Examinations 2022, which involves key education stakeholders.

Orals usually run during term time, causing considerable disruption to school life, and school leaders - but not teacher unions - have been advocating for a switch to the Easter holidays for years.

Schools had to release teachers to do the work for the State Exams Commission (SEC) while sixth year students suffered interruption to their routine in the final weeks of term.

Because of the impact of Covid, orals were conducted during the Easter holidays in 2021 and there was a further departure from the norm with students’ own teachers doing the interviews.

The breaking of tradition in 2021, coupled with the severe problems facing schools in finding substitute teachers, put orals at Easter on the agenda for 2022, and agreement was reached.

However, there will be a reversion to the normal practice of examiners being appointed by the SEC, rather than students’ own teachers doing the interviews.

The advisory group includes representative of students, parents, teachers, school leadership and management bodies, the SEC, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Department of Education, including the National Educational Psychological Service.

In a statement after today’s meeting, the Department of Education said holding the exams over Easter and outside of school time will minimise disruption for schools and students.

“It will also help to ensure that greater numbers of teachers can participate in this important examining work without impacting on teacher supply.”

The statement added that providing clarity to students on the timing of the exams would assist them in planning their study and break times.

Running the orals before Easter will leave students free over the second week of the Easter holidays.

The Junior Cycle Music practical performance test and the Home Economics practical test will take place during school time as normal.

The Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) issued a statement saying that it noted the arrangements for oral exams in and the music practical.

ASTI president Eamon Dennehy said Covid-19 had impacted second-level school systems and school communities in many ways and teachers had shown significant flexibility in the interests of their students and a deep commitment to their wellbeing and education.

He said the SEC had committed to issuing more detailed guidance in the New Year and the ASTI would be working to ensure that the concerns of ASTI members are allayed.

“The arrangements set out for 2022 are a further challenge to the system, the teachers and the students for whom the Easter break will be cut short.”

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) also noted the arrangements and said a significant factor for the move towards the Easter holiday period related to the teacher supply crisis.

TUI general secretary Michael Gillespie blamed the two-tier pay system introduced in 2011 for the teacher supply problem.

"This crisis has worsened over the years and has been exacerbated by the challenges posed by the pandemic. It is of critical importance that this hugely unfair and discriminatory pay system, which is damaging to the profession and to students, be finally ended in 2022.”

The union said it would continue to engage with all stakeholders ahead of the 2022 State exams.

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