Kilkenny school setting alternative Junior Cert for its 140 pupils

Presentation Secondary School in Kilkenny says it won’t be asking its 140 Junior Certificate students to sit the state paper in September and is instead opting to assess students across a number set criteria, including online exams in May, principal, Shane Halahan has confirmed.

Mr Halahan says he can’t have students, most of whom are just 15-years-old, studying across the summer and putting themselves under pressure to perform after weeks in lockdown and separated from their extended family and friends. Following a detailed consultation with staff, engagement with the school’s board of management, respected colleagues in other schools and industry experts, they have set up an alternative assessment system for the exam class, he confirmed.

Presentation Secondary School is instead opting for an online exam for students at the end of May. This will account for 30% of their final grade. A further 40% of their grade will be an average of their performance in exams and project work to date.

“Students will get a further 20% of their grade, based on their engagement with their teachers since the school closed on Google classroom. This grade will include their continued engagement until the end of May. The criteria on which a further 10% of their grade is still being established, but may be more reflective," Mr Hallahan confirmed.

“As the Junior Certificate has been cancelled there is no State based Certification for Junior Cycle this year so it is essentially school based certification. We believe in the quality and professionalism of our teachers to award grades based on clearly defined criteria and using work already completed to date.

“We as of now do not know when we will be able to return and what format that school will take. Starting the new school year with exams for students will not serve any value to our school community. It is more important than ever for our students in Pres to focus on their health and wellbeing. We do not wish to see students over the summer months caught up inside preparing for exams, worrying about when they might go ahead, if they go ahead. There is already huge stress in households and we wish to try and alleviate this in some way.

“We wish that upon our return to school in the new academic year that we all start afresh, looking forward to the next chapter in their lives. While distance learning is working relatively successfully, it is not the same as face-to-face contact with your teacher.  We believe that our approach will help to keep 3rd year students focussed and engaged for these final 6 weeks of school term.

“Above all, we believe that the plan outlined above is in the best interests of our girls in Presentation Kilkenny. It gives them clarity in these hugely uncertain times.”