Update for Parents/Guardians of LC & JC students

Dear Students and Parents/Guardians,

It's been quite a busy few weeks for everyone engaged in Online Learning and whilst a return to school has not yet been finalised, I think it's very important that we make decisions based on the information we have at this time.
We have recently learned that Special Classes will be returning on 22 February. The Taoiseach has said that he hopes to have clarity for Leaving Cert students by next week. We are facing a very condensed period of time in which to accommodate the completion of coursework and assessments such as orals and practical exams. This also assumes that we will not go into lockdown again. We also have to take account of students' and parents' views when we plan a course of action over the coming months. This is usually the time of year when Mock Examinations take place as a traditional element running up to the State Examinations in June. This year as we know is very different.
In consideration of running the mock examinations I have decided to suspend them for 2021.
In making a decision, we examined the following scenarios:
  1. Running the mocks as normal.
  2. Running the mocks remotely online.
  3. Running the mocks after school.
  4. Running the mocks over Easter.
Each scenario presents very different pressures and obstacles to students, parents/guardians, staff, and management. I feel that once schools re-open the onus is on us all to help prepare students for State Examinations. Every option presents very real challenges for teachers, students and parents/gaurdians, from the logistics of running the mock examinations to the management of those examinations and the value of feedback by the time exams are corrected and students receive it. Running Mock Examinations remotely was considered but I think the challenges that raises negate the positive benefits. Other risks include the State Examinations Commission subsequently adjusting their exam papers in terms of choice, range etc., and the inevitability of Mock papers being shared online in advance, both of which factors would impact on examination validity.
The exam classes of 2021 have lost significant in-person tuition time between 2020 and 2021 to date. As a school we have to prioritise classroom teaching over mock exams to maximise the learning experience and outcomes for exam students, particularly considering the short timeframe between mid-term and Easter. This is all assuming we can return to school safely in March. I think it would be very disruptive to the school if we were to return and then attempt to run the Mock Examinations at the expense of classroom tuition. We need to forge ahead and make the best use of the limited time we have. The running of mocks, I believe, would lead to significant additional stress on students, teachers, and parents/guardians and this is before decisions to reschedule orals examination and practical examinations have been made. Again, I wish to emphasise, that in the failure of any clear direction we must plan for what is best for our students.
In the absence of formal school based mock examinations, teachers of examination classes will regularly assess students so that they have a comprehensive record of each student's performance in their subject. The calculated grades model introduced in 2020 were not based on the Mock Examinations results and teachers were free to introduce and use all relevant assessments when coming to a decision on the level of grade calculated. In fact, there was a caveat placed on the use of mock examinations as a means of estimating the grades for students in 2020. The mock results are not always a good predictor of the State Examination results in normal circumstances and I believe we would find it very difficult to rely on them this year.
The mock exam papers have been delivered and will be available to use as a valuable resource to teachers and students. Teachers will be able to use the papers to assign appropriate work and manage this in the best way they see fit depending on their classes.
In the absence of School Based Formal Mock Examinations and Reports, we plan to have Parent Teacher Meetings (albeit in an online format) for our sixth-year cohort. We plan to use an online format such as Zoom/MS Teams for these LC Parent Teacher Meetings, whilst devising a VSware based report for our third-year students. Further details on this will be communicated to students and parents/guardians in due course.
I know that this is a big decision to make. Cancelling the mock examinations is not ideal but the situation we are in presents very real difficulties for us all and I believe that this is the best solution in the current circumstances. I have taken feedback from parents, students and teachers and feel that this is the best course of action.


Alan Mynes


Ballymakenny College


26 2021
TYs Last Day
27 2021
5th and 6th Year Last Day
28 2021
1st, 2nd 3rd Year Last Day
04 2021
Last day of Term
09 2021
State Examinations Begin
This announcemnt relates to Sixth Year students.
This notice relates to 5th Year students only.
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