TUI calls for further changes to 2022 State Examinations to take account of disruption to learning

By piofficer, Tuesday, 25th January 2022 | 0 comments

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) is calling for further changes to this year’s State Examinations to take account of the disruption to learning experienced by the class of 2022. The Union has already made clear its strong position that all State Examinations must take place this year. A new survey of members shows that 75% believe that the modifications to course content announced in August 2021 are not sufficient given the effects of the pandemic and that further changes to the papers are required.  

Existing modifications  

In August 2021 the Department of Education advised students and teachers of modifications to the course content in the individual Leaving Certificate subjects for examination in 2022. The modifications, which were welcome, sought to take account of the effects of the pandemic on teaching and learning patterns.  

TUI survey of members  

Since then, the TUI has continued to consult with members – including members of the Union’s Principals’ and Deputy Principals’ Association (PDA) – to ensure that their professional assessment of the effects of the pandemic on teaching and learning and on the appropriate assessment processes is fairly and accurately articulated by the Union. As part of its consultation with members, TUI conducted a focused “here and now” survey at the beginning of the second term (January 13th -19th) to establish teachers’ views regarding the adequacy or otherwise of the August 2021 modifications, given developments in the interim, especially the impact of the recent Omicron wave. 

The survey shows that 

  • 75% of respondents believe that the modifications to course content announced in August 2021 would not be sufficient given the effects of the pandemic. 
  • A clear majority believe that further changes are required to this year’s Leaving Certificate examination papers, similar to those (announced in March of last year) that applied to the 2021 examinations. In 2021, students were expected to answer a reduced number of questions in each exam with the same time allocation, effectively giving significantly enhanced choice. This is again required in 2022. 

These additional changes are needed to take fair account of  

  • the difficulty experienced in covering course content because of pandemic-related disruption.   
  • school and teacher autonomy in determining preferences and the sequence of content delivery.  
  • the reduced time available to students of subjects with practical/experimental components in workshops/laboratories/practical rooms and the effect of this on the development of skills and completion of project work. 

Teachers believe the Leaving Certificate examinations inclusive of associated additional components of assessment (e.g. Orals, Practicals, Portfolios, Coursework etc.) should proceed. 

The TUI has collated the feedback provided by teachers in relation to the changes needed in the structure of the examination papers/assessment components of the individual subjects.  

The Union has sent these findings to the Department to make clear the views of our members.  

Clarity urgently needed for students and teachers  

Clarity is needed now so that teaching and learning has the requisite focus over the coming months. Anecdotally, we are hearing that the current indecision is negatively affecting student engagement with important Leaving Certificate tasks and decisions.  

The TUI is therefore asking the Minister to clarify that the necessary changes will be made and to have the details, by subject, of those changes notified to all concerned as a matter of extreme urgency. This will assist the entire school community.  

Leaving Certificate Applied 

Leaving Certificate Applied students also require additional supports – as was the case in 2021 – to complete the Tasks required for examination. 

Junior Certificate 

The strong view of members of the TUI is that the Junior Certificate examinations should proceed in 2022 with modifications, where necessary, to examination papers to take account of the disruption to teaching and learning patterns caused by the pandemic.  

In relation to those subjects in which a Junior Certificate examination has not yet been held, sample papers which take account of the pandemic’s effects are urgently required to provide guidance and clarity to students and teachers alike.