26 August, 2020 - Minister Foley announces postponed 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations to commence on 16 November 2020

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD today (26 August 2020) announced that the 2020 postponed Leaving Certificate examinations will commence on Monday 16 November, subject to public health advice and engagement with stakeholders.  Junior Cycle examinations for adult learners and early school leavers will also commence in November. The examinations will be scheduled for evenings and at weekends.

The Minister also confirmed that the postponed Leaving Certificate Examinations will take the form of written examinations only.

The postponement of the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations was announced on 8 May. Students were offered the option of receiving Calculated Grades and/or sitting Leaving Certificate written examinations at a later date when it was considered safe to do so. 

Students sitting the written examinations in November who opted to receive Calculated Grades will be credited with the higher subject grade achieved between the Calculated Grade and the written examination.

Students are being advised that the written examinations will be based on the normal question paper format, content and structure as in previous years. Students taking the postponed examinations will be graded on the basis of their written papers.

The Minister advised that the State Examinations Commission (SEC) is currently working with her Department on arrangements for the postponed examinations, which include the Leaving Certificate Established, Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) and the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA). This will include engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, including school management and teachers’ representatives, and broader engagement with the Advisory Group on Contingency Planning for the 2020 State Examinations.

Following this engagement the SEC will issue detailed information regarding the arrangements for the postponed examinations. This will include details of the examinations timetable and other logistics, including the arrangements for students to apply to sit an examination.  The final arrangements will be determined in part by the number of students who opt to sit the examinations. However, the Minister wanted in the interim to provide certainty regarding some elements of the examinations, to allow students considering sitting these examinations to prepare for them.

In confirming the written nature of the examinations the Minister stated it would not be feasible or practical at this stage to conduct examinations in oral or practical components, or to try to complete unfinished coursework.  She referred to the fact that the oral and practical components are school-based, requiring significant levels of support at school level, including the requirement to take serving teachers out of their schools to undertake state examinations work.

In the case of five subjects, the SEC will also mark coursework which had been completed prior to school closure and these marks will be included in the grading of these subjects. These are:

  • Home Economics (already marked by the SEC);
  • LCVP Portfolio;
  • Design and Communication Graphics;
  • Physical Education (PE) Physical Activity Project;
  • Engineering.

In all other subjects, candidates will be awarded grades solely on the written papers.  An earlier arrangement, communicated in March, that full marks would be awarded in respect of oral language and music performance tests, was cancelled when the summer examinations were postponed on 8 May and the system of Calculated Grades was introduced.  The March announcement was intended to support the running of all other examination components in the normal fashion as part of a response to the emergency situation relating to Covid-19 at the time. Candidates are not being automatically awarded full marks in respect of any examination component in the Calculated Grades system. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate or fair to now award full marks for some examination components in the interest of inter-candidate equity between those sitting a later examination and those receiving a calculated grade.

Planned Junior Cycle written examinations for adult learners will also take place in November 2020.  It was previously advised that the SEC would offer these examinations to adult learners in the autumn. Minister Foley today advised that these later Junior Cycle examinations will also now be offered to early school leavers, who have left school post-Junior Cycle 2020 and who are not continuing in an educational pathway that would lead to formal certification.