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Ireland : Minister McHugh announces new provisions to assist Leaving Certificate students who suffer bereavement of close relative during exam period.

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. (Friday 31 May) announced new provisions allowing Leaving Certificate students who suffer a close family bereavement during the state examinations in June to sit alternative papers in July.

Under the new approach a special alternative sitting of examinations is to be made available to bereaved students, if required. The decision has been taken by Minister McHugh after he requested a review in January into how students are supported in the wake of the death of a close family member during the state examinations.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) examined the scheme of Reasonable Accommodations at the Certificate Examinations (RACE) which provides assistance to candidates with special needs in state examinations. The interim measures are being announced today on a pilot basis and represent an important enhancement to the existing provisions.

Minister McHugh said: I called for the review of this issue after hearing the compelling interview of Rhona Butler with Ryan Tubridy several months ago. I want to thank Rhona again for highlighting this issue and demonstrating how we should look after and support students who have suffered a loss. The death of a loved one is a deeply traumatic event for any young person, which will only be compounded if it occurs in the midst of exams.

The Leaving Certificate plays a hugely important role in our education system and in the progression of our young people. We have a duty to take reasonable measures to support young people who suffer loss at such an important time for them. My hope is that the new initiative will go a small way to easing the burden and stress of bereavement and giving students space to focus on their family.

In reviewing the provision made for students who suffer trauma and adversity at the time of the examination, the SEC considered provision for those who are necessarily absent from some of their examinations following the death of a close relative at the time of the examinations.

The main details of the pilot scheme for 2019, informed by the recommendations, are as follows:

Leaving Certificate and Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) candidates who are absent from some of their examinations as a consequence of the death of a close relative at the time of the examinations will be allowed sit an alternative paper in those subjects in early July. The scheme will allow for a student to be absent from exams for a three-day period during the June written state examination timetable. The three day period will commence from the date of the death of a close relative up to and including the day after the funeral. These three days do not need to be consecutive.

The three day period is intended to allow bereaved candidates time free from Leaving Certificate examinations to prepare for and attend the funeral of their loved one. The measures will apply in cases where the death of the close relative occurs during exam time, or in the two days prior to the exams commencing on 5th June. The scheme defines a close relative as a father, step-father, mother, step-mother, legal guardian, brother, step-brother, half-brother, sister, step-sister, half-sister, grandfather or grandmother.

The scheme will also provide for the death of a son or daughter, wife or husband or civil partner of a Leaving Certificate candidate. The alternative sittings will take place over five days - Monday 8th July - Friday 12th July, 2019. The exam centre will be in Athlone this year. The scheme is being introduced on an interim and pilot basis. It will be reviewed following the 2019 Leaving Certificate. A student who suffers a bereavement and who wishes to take particular exams during the alternative July sittings cannot also sit those same exams during the original June sittings.

The results from the alternative Leaving Certificate examinations will be available at the same time as the main examination results, on 13th August in 2019. The SEC will continue to provide the same supports to candidates suffering trauma and adversity during their examinations as in previous years (see notes).

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Jun 4, 2019
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