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ISSU Survey Results: Students Want Choice & Clear Communication

Posted by Schooldays Newshound, on 20/01/2021. ISSU Survey Results: Students Want Choice & Clear CommunicationTags: Parenting Teachers

Today, Wednesday 20th January 2021, the Irish-Second Level Students’ Union publishes their Report on the State Examinations 2021 and the Reopening of Schools. The ISSU undertook a detailed consultation process including a survey which had over 20,000 responses, and a private webinar with over 250 representatives of ISSU member schools in attendance.

The purpose of this report is to ensure student voice is being included in any decisions made surrounding the 2021 State Examinations and the Reopening of Schools. The consultation process was carried out through the ISSU’s 480 member schools, and due to the important nature of future decisions on these topics, students from all schools were also invited to input to the survey.

The ISSU reiterates the need for increased communication from the Department of Education & Skills regarding safety protocols and the rationale behind their decisions, with 73% of respondents feeling either very unsafe or unsafe with regard to the prospect of schools reopening. The ISSU notes that poor communications is also leading to students lacking any real trust in the Department’s decisions, with 75% of respondents saying that their trust in the Department is either “very poor” or “poor”.

State Examinations

After extensive analysis of the survey results paired with data from the consultation, the ISSU will be advocating for a choice for Leaving Certificate students between calculated grades or sitting in-person exams in June, with over 81% of respondents rating this option favourably. The ISSU wishes to acknowledge the massive input from 6th year and LCA2 students in particular to the survey and consultation, as well as their communications with the union over the last number of weeks.

Alicia O’Sullivan, Education Officer of the ISSU noted “It has been an extremely busy time for us here in ISSU over the last few weeks. Students are calling out for clarity and are calling for the Department to give them some idea of what might happen regarding their exams. We have listened and we now have a clearer picture of what students want, and we want to work constructively with the Department and other stakeholders to make sure that all students are catered for, and that their welfare is prioritised over anything else in the coming months”.

The ISSU will also be advocating for clarity with regard to the Junior Certificate exams, with 71% of Junior Cycle students who responded to the survey communicating their dissatisfaction with the support they have received from the Department of Education. Junior Cycle students are also not in favour of exams proceeding as currently planned, with calculated grades or an option of calculated grades and in-person exams gathering a majority of support.

Speaking on the launch of the survey and consultation report, ISSU President Reuban Murray stated “Students want clarity, and for the Department to learn from the mistakes and delays of last year. We need to plan now for what might be happening regarding exams and the reopening of schools in the coming weeks and months. We’re asking for compassion for the thousands of students who - up until now- have been asked to carry on as normal, in what are completely abnormal times. It is clear that we need to try something different, and we’re ready and willing to contribute to this with our recommendations in this report”.

The ISSU will present these findings to Minister Norma Foley, the Department of Education & Skills and all education stakeholders at the Advisory Group meeting regarding State Examinations this Friday 22nd January.

The full ISSU Report on the State Examinations 2021 and the Reopening of Schools is attached and can be found here after 2.30pm, see here.


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