After a year of unprecedented upheaval in school life, Leaving Cert students this Monday got the results of the exams they never sat and, overall, they were happy with their grades, according to a number of principals across the region.
Schools nationwide were closed abruptly on March 12 at the start of the coronavirus lockdown and for Leaving Cert students what was initially expected to be a two-week break turned out to be the end of school life. The Leaving Cert exams were abandoned in June because of the risk of coronavirus infection and in place of the gruelling rite of passage students were awarded grades based their teachers' assessments of how they would have performed.
The grading system was the subject of much debate throughout the summer; however, as the results were revealed online on Monday, schools across north and mid Cork said they were happy that the predictive grades system was as fair as it could be in the circumstances and the feedback from students was that they were happy with their results.
The marks awarded in schools nationwide were awarded by teachers on the basis of what they felt students would be expected to achieve, all things going well with the exams. These marks were then scrutinised by school principals and further scrutinised by Department of Education officials who tended to revise marks downwards to avoid excessive grade inflation. Local principals said they felt both the exam results and the system devised to calculate them were as fair and balanced as could be achieved.
"We are delighted for and proud of all our students irrespective of their points and we wish them all well in their futures. Our only regret is that they never got to experience the fantastic facilities that have come as part of the new school extension which officially opened this week," said Stephen Gilbert, principal of Davis College in Mallow, where staff had put together a special yearbook to acknowlege the achievements of the Leaving Cert class of 2020.
Two students at Davis College - Sean Kelleher and Kate O'Keeffe - broke the 600 points mark, while 20 students broke 500 points.
It was a similar story in Colaiste Treasa, Kanturk, where both Elaine Daly, Newmarket and Róisín Kavanagh, Kanturk hit the 625 point maximum.
And, again, at both schools in Charleville - the CBS and St Mary's - there were similar tales of success. "We are immensely proud of the work ethic and resilience displayed by our class of 2020. The obstacles thrown in their way only served to motivate them to work even harder, and their results reflect the two-year commitment to hard work and dedication, which they displayed throughout their time in CBS Charleville," said Principal Tony McSweeney.
"It was a difficult end for our students who had worked so tirelessly with our teachers in pursuit of continued academic excellence," said St Mary's acting principal Maighread Finn. "The resilience our young ladies have shown throughout their time in St Marys is incredible but in particular in the last six months."