Leaving Cert: The Modernisation Begins
Today, the first Wednesday after the June Bank holiday marks the beginning of the Leaving Cert for the candidates of 2021. Social media is awash with messages of support from politicians and celebrities and well meaning family members.
This Leaving Cert weather also triggers many people to have the Leaving Cert dream, remembering their own experience of the exam that has been a rite of passage for generations.
The Leaving Cert begins today with the traditional first exam English Paper I. This years leaving cert candidates have a backup option that has not been provided before. Lockdown meant that much of the school year was spent learning remotely, leading to varying degrees of success and engagement depending on internet connection and resources.
In response to this the department of education has put into place a system of accredited grades along with the typical written exam to give students a backup choice to calculate their points.
Students could opt into these accredited grades subject by subject or choose to sit the exam and do accredited grades.In the event that there is a difference between the accredited grade and the grade for the written exam student will be awarded the better grade.
Students have had two chances already to choose to receive their accredited grades and the majority of students have chosen to do so.
In recent days the State Examinations Commission (SEC) have announced that students will have another opportunity to do so later in the summer.
Teachers were advised to prepare accredited grades for all students as a precaution.
This system will without doubt lead to a rise in points for many courses.
Last year just over 2,000 extra college places were found to combat the grade inflation that occurred last year after the leaving cert was cancelled.
Similarly this year more college places have been found with 3,000 new places being identified for upcoming 21/22 year. This will bring the number of students starting college in the first year next year up to approximately 50,000.
It is hoped that this will ease some of the pressure on the application system as that has been built over the past few years.
Last week the Department of Education and Skills announced that students would receive their leaving cert results on the third of september. This drew criticism from members of the opposition and caused the Central Application Office (CAO) to quickly announce that students would receive their offers on the 7th of September.
Colleges and universities are now accommodating these changes for first year students , University Limerick and National University of Ireland Galway had already listed their dates as the 6th of September while Trinity, University College Dublin and University College Cork had stated that their start date was the 13th of September. Dublin City University and other colleges have indicated that they will start at the later date of 20th of September. All colleges will be bridging their timetables in line with that of the CAO offers.
This comes as the Minister for Further and Higher Education Research Innovation and Science announced that he expects that staff and students will be back on campus next year.
He also indicated that most students will be vaccinated by the time they return to college next September and October.
Huge steps have been taken over the pandemic to change the system of progressing on to further and higher education. As students sit their exams today and over the coming weeks they are part of the modernisation of an exam that has and will continue to serve as a rite of passage in Irish life.