What to do about the Leaving Cert

Before talking about the LC, I just thought I’d mention my last blog post. It was born out of frustration, frustration probably heightened by the nonsense we read daily from conspiracy theorists about Covid-19, 5G etc. Losing the head about education has been an enduring feature of my career and I might write about that sometime in the future!

But for now, what are we to do about the Leaving Cert and college entry for 2020/2021. First I think we have to recognise that students are stressed (as they normally area) but this time I think things are different. My own experience of lockdown since early March has been that my brain is operating well below capacity. Some days, I find I’m in the zone and work comes easily to me.

But other days, I’m gripped by inertia and procrastination and achieve almost nothing. I suspect many students are in the same boat, even if their home circumstances are perfect for learning. These are very unusual times.

The reaction to delaying the Leaving is understandable. Like sportspeople, many students will have timed their study to peak in June, not August, and the thoughts of an extra couple of months of study must be pretty demoralising.

The idea of using predicted grades when the stakes are so high doesn’t make sense to me. It would be like deciding to end a soccer match 20 minutes early (due to the weather perhaps) and declaring whoever was in the lead to be the winner.

I think the best thing we can do is listen to the advice of Michael Ryan of the WHO when talking about COVID-19. His key message was that it would be disastrous to hesitate in the pursuit of perfection. At the moment, we’re hesitating in the belief that everything will turn out fine in the end and normality can resume. Until we have a vaccine or effective anti-virals, that seems unlikely.

So what to do? Despite what I said above, I think we need to go with predicted grades but we need to abandon the points system and move to a very generic form of entry. The devil is in the detail though.

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