The graduation certificate exams begin this morning, as the class of 2021 becomes the second to undergo the process during a pandemic.
Students will sit at English Paper One starting at 9:30 am, with over 5,000 exam centers in use to enable social distancing.
This year, sixth-year students have the option of taking written exams, accepting calculated marks, or choosing both, subject by subject. They will be credited with the better of the two results.
Almost 90% of the 61,500 Leaving Cert applicants chose to take written exams, and 52,000 registered to take at least one.
Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), urged students to focus on their physical and mental well-being before exams.
“As school leaders, we would like to encourage our Leaving Cert students not to focus on the ‘points race’ or being drawn into comparisons with their peers. There are many paths to the career you want and no one path or college course trumps another, ”he said.
“Covid has presented many challenges for our traditional education system, but it has also created opportunities.
“The recent creation of several new apprenticeship and technical programs at our postgraduate institutions provides additional education and training paths for our young people more than ever before. “
After 14 months of school closures and distance learning, Byrne said students should be “immensely proud” to have crossed the Leaving Cert milestone.
“The class of 2021 will go down in the history books as the one that faced and overcame unprecedented challenges due to Covid-19. School leaders, teachers, their families and peers are extremely proud of their achievements so far and we wish them every success in their exams and in all their future endeavors, ”he said.
He added, “The past 14 months have seen school closures, distance learning and Covid-19 precautions that have affected every part of the school community, especially our sixth graders.
“We must salute their resilience and commitment to their lifelong education and recognize that the circumstances in which they found themselves created a cohort of well-rounded and compassionate young adults ready to make a positive contribution to Irish life.”