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Later Leaving Cert could delay the start of new school year


Minister Joe McHugh

Minister Joe McHugh

Minister Joe McHugh

The opening of the new school year in second-level schools may be delayed by a postponement to the start of the Leaving Cert to late July or August.

It will depend on the final timetable for the rescheduled exams and how long it takes to grade the papers of the 61,000 candidates, in which working teachers are heavily involved.

A Department of Education spokesperson confirmed it is only when the new exam schedule is set in June "will it be possible to determine if there will be any impact for the start of the new school year".

In a bid to make the marking process as efficient as possible, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) will seek to boost examiner numbers by using Junior Cycle examiners, as well as recruiting further examiners.

The postponement of the Leaving Cert ends weeks of uncertainty.

Practical exams, due in May, will also be rescheduled for late July/early August.

Teachers will be asked to make themselves available for at least two weeks of class time, in school, for Leaving Cert candidates before the exams begin.

The CAO process will operate as closely as possible to the usual time frame for offers, with a delayed college start for first years.

The Junior Cycle written exams have also been cancelled. These are to replaced by school-based exams and assessments early in the next school year.

Schools will remain shut until further notice.

All the decisions are based on advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team.

Even as he announced the postponement of the Leaving Cert, Education Minister Joe McHugh said plans being put in place for the exams to begin in July or early August were subject to public health advice.

There was a general welcome for the postponement, although the Irish Second Level Students' Union said it left questions unanswered.


Mr McHugh said he hoped the announcement helped to alleviate some stress.

He admitted asking Leaving Cert students and their families to refocus their attention from June to August "is not something we do lightly" adding: "I know it will not be easy."

He believed it was "the fairest way of assessing students and giving them certification of achievement in school and a pathway to higher and further education and training, apprenticeship or work".