The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said that students with underlying health issues, special educational needs or those who were already victims of educational disadvantage must not have their prospects further damaged by the current crisis.
The Union said that it will be working closely with the State Examinations Commission and Minister for Education and Skills in this regard in the coming weeks.
Speaking this morning, TUI President Seamus Lahart said:
‘What we are currently experiencing is unprecedented and unfortunately there are no perfect solutions to any of the challenges that our society faces. We are acutely aware of the stress that the situation is causing for students, particularly those due to sit the Leaving Certificate.
However, we would like to reassure the families of those students who, for a variety of reasons, are in vulnerable situations at the moment that we will be working with the relevant bodies to ensure that every reasonable accommodation is made for them in terms of the rescheduled Leaving Certificate exams. The Minister has committed to comprehensive engagement with unions in the coming weeks and we will do everything that we can to address the concerns of students and their families.
For example, students who are immuno-compromised or those with underlying health issues, those recently bereaved and those with special educational needs must be provided with the reasonable accommodations that they require to ensure that their health and safety is prioritised that that they have the same chance as every other candidate.
Similarly, we must work to ensure that those students who were already victims of educational disadvantage before ever we faced the coronavirus crisis do not have their prospects further damaged.
This is a time for solidarity, compassion, flexibility and imaginative thinking. In this regard, we endorse the suggestion of Professor Aine Hyland (Emeritus Professor of Education at University College Cork) that the quota of students who have suffered disadvantage accepted through third level access schemes might be increased.
Teachers around the country are going above and beyond the call of duty to support their students at this challenging time, as has been demonstrated in recent weeks. Their welfare and safety must also be taken fully into account in the context of arrangements related to the postponement of the exams to late July/August and the TUI will represent their interest in this regard.'
Following a remote meeting of its Executive Committee on Friday night, the TUI said that in relation to the Minister’s request that teachers and schools facilitate a period of re-engagement by Leaving Certificate students in a school setting before the examinations, the Union is asking members to engage in this process as a whole-school response to meet the needs of students.