Leaving Certificate cancellation ‘fairest decision’

‘Thankfully, we are now worrying about our results not our lives’ - Donegal Head Boy

George Houston, Head Boy, Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana

‘Thankfully, we are now worrying about our results not our lives’ - Donegal Head Boy, George Houston

A Donegal Head Boy has described the Government’s cancellation of the Leaving Certificate as the “fairest decision” which could have been taken.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh cancelled this year’s Leaving Certificate exams on Friday past.

According to George Houston, outgoing Head Boy at Scoil Mhuire in Buncrana, the Government “could not have ignored Leaving Certificate students any longer.”

George added: “The 60,000 Leaving Certificate students across the State were definitely making their voices heard. They were very clear in their opinion. They wanted the exams cancelled.

“Following the Government’s decision, Leaving Certificate students can now choose whether they want to do their exams later this year or receive predicted grades in August. It’s sort of a win-win situation.  

“I know there are students worried they have been working really hard at the last minute and they want to get recognition of that fact. However, I’d say teachers know their students and know what they are capable off.

“Some of my friends definitely deserve very good grades and I would be very annoyed if they didn’t get them. But, at least, they can appeal, or they can decide to sit it later their Leaving Certificate exams in the coming academic year,” said George.

According to George, some students did not have any teaching since the first day of the lockdown, due to many factors including poor broadband.

He said: “To proceed with the Leaving Certificate under those conditions would not have provided a level playing field for all students.

“The predicted grades system will be moderated by the school’s Vice Principal and the Department of Education. It will be regulated. It is the best that they could do in the situation.

“Everyone was acting as if students sitting this year’s Leaving Certificate was going to be as easy as every other year. But it would not have been. It would have been a very difficult year and that had to be taken into consideration.

“I am planning a Gap Year, but I feel bad for some of the students who are worrying about their results. They know they were really going to push on at the last minute. However, they can always appeal, and they can do the exams after September, if they really want to,” said George.

George Houston said the debate on Leaving Certificate 2020 had “shone a light” on the whole Leaving Certificate itself.

He said: “The Leaving Certificate really is not the best of examinations for getting students into university. It is very difficult for students from different backgrounds to get where they need to go.

“I am at a Deis School and I have read that high achieving students from Deis schools, who generally come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, are going to come off worse from these decisions. That’s annoying.

“Only a certain number of people can get good grades with the bell curve and they usually favour higher achieving students, in areas like Dublin, in non Deis schools. But I really hope that it works out for as many people as possible.

“Schools should now be looking at how well their students have progressed since Junior Certificate and acknowledging people tend to work really hard at that last moment and taking into account the work ethic of students,” said George.

George, who comes from Burt, felt the Department of Education had little alternative but to cancel Leaving Certificate 2020.

He added: “I think it could not have ignored the students any longer. 79 percent voted for cancellation.

“If they hadn’t cancelled it, I would have boycotted it. They can’t just ignore an entire generation of adults.

“They were talking about what was best for us as if we were children. We know what is on the table and what is at risk.

“It is our lives and now we are worrying about results and not our lives it is more realistic,” concluded George Houston.




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