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Sunday 25 August 2019

Leaving Cert timetable extended two days to accommodate new subjects

Minister: Joe McHugh said the changes would ‘ease pressure’. Photo: Frank McGrath
Minister: Joe McHugh said the changes would ‘ease pressure’. Photo: Frank McGrath
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Two more days are being added to the end of the Leaving Cert written exam timetable from next year, as the number of subjects grows.

The exams will start, as usual, on the Wednesday after the June Bank Holiday, but will now extend over 15 days, bringing them into a fourth week at the end of the month.

In 2019, the additional days will be Monday, June 24, and Tuesday, June 25, with exams in seven subjects over those two days.

As a result, exams in Italian, Russian, Classical Studies/Latin and Technology will move to June 24, and, on the morning of June 25, students will be in the halls for Arabic, Japanese, and Politics and Society.

The aim is to eliminate clashes as much as possible in the already crowded timetable as an additional three subjects come on-stream.

One new subject, Politics and Society, was added for the first time this year and there was controversy over its timing. It was included as one of three exams being held on a single day, and it meant some students had a marathon sitting to complete all three.

Physical Education and Computer Science will be examined for the first time in 2020.

The Department of Education said there had been a particular focus on ensuring there was only a minimal chance that a candidate would have to take three exams on one day, but that it was "not possible to guarantee that a situation will not arise which will require a student to undertake three examinations on one day in 2019 or in a future year".

Announcing the change, Education Minister Joe McHugh said it was "about trying to ease pressure".

National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals director Clive Byrne welcomed it as a small step in terms of "wider necessary Leaving Cert reforms, with the interests of the students at heart".

Separately, Mr McHugh confirmed plans to slow down the pace of reforms at primary level by putting back the introduction of a new maths curriculum, as well as allowing for consultations on timing of further changes to school admissions rules.

The move reflects concerns voiced by the curriculum advisory body, the NCCA, and teachers' organisations about initiative overload.

Mr McHugh is delaying the consultation process on a proposed new maths curriculum from 2019 to 2020, which in turn will delay implementation, which been scheduled for the 2021/22 year. It will also allow the new maths curriculum to align with the agreed directions of a proposed new primary curriculum.

On admissions, some reforms have been implemented, but Mr McHugh will engage with the education partners in the coming weeks and consult with them on drawing up timelines for further changes.

Changes yet to be implemented include a 25pc limit on the number of children or grandchildren of past pupils a school may enrol, and a ban on waiting lists.

Irish Independent

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