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Leaving Cert: Teachers now opposing permanent move to Easter break for oral exams





Teachers have given Education Minister Norma Foley another headache over her plans to reform the Leaving Cert.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) conference has voted to resist moves to make a permanent switch to running Leaving Cert orals and music practical exams over the Easter holidays.

Traditionally, these exams happen during term time, but in the past two years, they have moved to the Easter period because of the disruption caused by Covid.

The orals are a massive logistical exercise, which, this year, involved about 95,000 individual exams and about 1,100 examiners, who are teachers engaged by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) to undertake this work.

With ongoing high levels of teacher absences because of Covid, this year school managers argued that it would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible for schools to release teachers for this work during term time.

But Ms Foley’s reform package proposes to make the change permanent and to run these exams during the first week of the Easter holidays,

An emergency motion adopted at the TUI conference accuses the minister of an “opportunistic and unacceptable in attempt to normalise a temporary , emergency arrangement”.

Delegates said the decision did not have any regard for the fact that the timing of Easter varies and, also , that students may engage in extra-curricular activities during the Easter break.

The motion instructs the union executive to oppose the move “by all available means” and to engage with the Department of Education and the SEC as a matter of urgency.

It comes on top of decisions by both the TUI and the Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) to resist another key element of the reform package – the plan for teachers to assess their own students for 40pc of marks in each Leaving Cert subject.

The ASTI has also said it will refuse to engage in any discussion about Leaving Cert reform until "a full, open and transparent study of the Junior Cert has been conducted and its findings made public". 

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