Examination Information - Leaving Certificate 2020

Examination Information - Leaving Certificate 2020

Leaving Certificate 2020: Information and Resources

Published: 30 April 2020
From: Department of Education and Skills


The purpose of this page is to provide as much clarity as possible on the decisions made about the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations.

At the moment, the Department of Education and Skills, State Examinations Commission (SEC) and a group of those involved in delivering education, including teachers’ unions, are working together to consider all the issues involved with the Leaving Certificate and provide as much certainty as possible to the exams process. The wellbeing and welfare of students is at the heart of this. Students are represented on this body through the second-level students’ union, ISSU.

This page will be updated as new information becomes available so please check back from time to time.

More specific details regarding the 2020 state examinations can be found on the website of the State Examinations Commission.

Key decisions

On foot of public health advice, the following decisions have been taken so far:

  • the oral and practical performance tests that had been scheduled to take place from 23 March to 3 April have been cancelled. Students who were due to take these tests will be awarded full marks for that portion of their exams.
  • the written Leaving Certificate examinations have been postponed. It is intended that these will commence on 29 July should the public health advice permit this.
  • the dates for some Leaving Certificate practical examinations have been put back to late July/early August, pending public health advice.
  • the date for submission of certain project work and coursework has been extended to just before the start of the rescheduled written examinations.

These postponements and rescheduling also applied to elements of the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) and Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP). More details about the announcement made about these measures on 10 April can be found here .

Information for Leaving Cert Students

Why were the Leaving Certificate examinations postponed?

The decision to postpone the Leaving Certificate examinations was taken as part of measures to respond to Covid-19, on foot of updated advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). All decisions taken in relation to rescheduling exams are based on current health advice and put the best interests of students first. The welfare of students and that of their families is front and centre in all decision making.

Taking students’ interests into account in planning for the rescheduled Leaving Certificate examinations

The department has created an advisory group of stakeholders to assist in planning for the revised State Examinations, taking account of public health advice. It is talking about a wide range of issues.

The group includes representatives of students, parents, teachers, school leadership and management bodies, the State Examinations Commission, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the National Educational Psychological Service and the department.

The Higher Education Authority observes the meetings and will feed information back to consultations it is involved with across the third level sector.

Supports for students' wellbeing

Guidance is being provided by a number of bodies to help students deal with stress and enhance their wellbeing. The Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) has developed resources for students to manage and stay well at this time. You can find these here and here. Support is also available from your school’s Student Support Team. The Health Service Executive (HSE) and HSE-funded services with expertise in supporting young people are also available to support young people. You can find contact details for these here .

Rescheduled examination timetable

It is intended that the new Leaving Certificate exam timetable will be confirmed in early June, after updated advice has been received from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

If this advice means that it is possible for the exams to start in the last week of July, a starting day of Wednesday 29 July has been scheduled. (The state examinations usually start on a Wednesday).

Intention to provide two weeks of class time

The intention is that Leaving Cert students would return to school at least two weeks before the exams begin. This will give students two weeks class time, face-to-face with their teachers, to settle back in to the school and to help them to prepare for the exams.

Appeals process for 2020 Leaving Certificate Examination

The SEC will seek to process appeals as quickly as possible in line with the arrangements introduced in 2019. The higher education institutions and the colleges of further education have confirmed that they will delay the entry date for first year students as necessary in line with the postponement of the Leaving Certificate examinations.

Supports available to students concerned about missing schooling over the recent period.

Everyone recognises that this is not an ideal situation for students. Teachers, schools and the department have been working to ensure that students will be enabled to continue their learning.

Schools have been using many innovative ways to support students in their learning and have been given guidance to help with this.

There is an intention that at least two weeks of face-to-face schooling will be provided before the examinations to help make up for any learning that has been missed by students over the period of school closures.

The department has been working with other stakeholders to put in place a range of supports for schools and teachers to assist them with distance learning.

Further details regarding these supports are available here .

Accommodations for students who are unable to sit the rescheduled Leaving Certificate examinations

The SEC and the department are considering appropriate alternative arrangements so that candidates in these situations are not disadvantaged compared to their peers. The department is also working with an advisory group of stakeholders (see above) on this.

Alternative arrangements if health advice does not allow the rescheduled school opening and examinations to proceed

The department and the State Examinations Commission will make every effort to run the examinations. The department is working closely with colleagues in the Department of Health and will, in all instances, be guided by the health advice and the restrictions in place at the time.

Detailed plans cannot be made this early ahead of such advice. Appropriate alternative arrangements will be put in place based on medical advice received.

Social distancing and safety during the rescheduled State examinations

All decisions on how the examinations will be run will be based on the advice of the Department of Health’s public health experts. Guidance will issue to schools and to candidates on operational and procedural changes necessary to safeguard health and wellbeing, based on public health guidelines at the time.

Advice to Leaving Certificate students at this time

Students should continue to prepare for their examinations by engaging in the teaching and learning arrangements that have been put in place by their school. In such stressful times, it is recommended that students stay in touch and remain connected with friends, family and classmates for support.

Students were already urged to take a few days off over Easter and they should take a break from study for the first two weeks of June.

Paying the Leaving Certicate fee

The closing date for payment of the fee has been extended until after the exams are complete and the results are to be issued.

If you or your parents/guardians have a full medical card you can claim an exemption from paying the exam fees at any stage up until the time of issue of results. This will allow parents, guardians or candidates who may now become entitled to a medical card, as a result of unexpectedly becoming unemployed or other change of circumstances, to provide details to the SEC to claim the exemptions.

If the exam fee has been paid and you become eligible for the fee alleviation scheme, then the SEC will refund the money paid.

Impact on CAO process and progression into third level education

The CAO process will, as far as is possible, run as normal although in a later timeframe.

The Higher Education Institutions and the Colleges of Further Education have confirmed that they will delay the entry date for first year students as necessary in line with the postponement of the Leaving Certificate examinations.

Applications to higher education institutions outside the State

The department is working closely with the appropriate bodies in other jurisdictions, such as UCAS in the UK, in order to facilitate as best as possible the smooth transition to the next stage of learning for Leaving Cert 2020 students.

Supports for students in order to reduce educational disadvantage caused by school closures

The teachers of pupils at risk of educational disadvantage in both DEIS and non-DEIS schools have been particularly focussed on ensuring that they provide support to these students when schools have been closed.

All schools and teachers have been asked to communicate regularly and engage with their students to ensure that there is continuity in their learning.

Schools have been asked to continue to plan lessons and, where possible, provide resources for students. This can include online lessons where schools are able to do so. Schools have also been asked to be aware of students who cannot engage in online lessons and to take a different approach in these cases.

The department issued guidance to all schools on how to support continuity of learning. The department continues to work with management bodies and other partners to develop further support and advice which will be made available on an ongoing basis. This includes further guidance to help support disadvantaged students and students with special needs. Further information is available here .

Accommodating students with special educational needs

The department has issued guidance for schools on providing for the continuity of schooling and supporting students with special educational needs (SEN) during school closures. This can be found here.

Students with SEN are among those who need most support at this time, and schools are guided as to the range of strategies and measures which can be put in place to ensure that the needs of students with SEN are supported.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) website also outlines a wide range of resources suitable for children with special educational needs.

Students with special educational needs may have special arrangements made for them while sitting State examinations such as the Leaving Certificate. Candidates with disabilities can apply through their school for reasonable accommodation during examinations.

Further details of supports is available from the SEC Reasonable Accommodations Section: www.examinations.ie

Steps being taken to improve access to ICT for students

ICT grant funding of €50 million is being issued to schools and includes a top-up fund of €10 million to further assist schools to support the purchase of technology devices for students who cannot access distance learning being provided by schools through digital platforms. DEIS schools receive 10% additional funding under these grants to support disadvantaged students in their schools.

The department has engaged with the telecommunications industry to seek to have websites with educational content zero rated for data purposes, to assist with data limit and data cost issues for students and parents.

Many schools and their teachers are providing online classes and developing educational resources that students can access to support their learning during school closures

Schools have been asked to put measures in place to support students where access to digital devices or adequate broadband are a problem.

Supports for current 5th year students as a result of the decision to postpone the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations

The department acknowledges that all students are suffering as a result of the school closures, not just exam year students. The department has been working with other stakeholders to put in place a range of supports for schools and teachers engaged in distance learning.

In order to minimise the impact on teaching and learning all schools have been asked to continue to plan lessons and, where possible, provide online resources for students or online lessons where schools are equipped to do so. Schools have also been asked to be conscious of students who may not have access to online facilities and to consider this actively in their response.

Further details regarding these supports are available here.

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