A key objective of Government has been to run the Leaving Certificate examinations in 2021 as closely as possible to the normal arrangements. However, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent national lockdown, students have experienced a significant loss of face-to-face teaching and learning in the early months of 2021 as well as in the later part of the 2019/2020 school year. While teachers and school management have provided extensive online learning opportunities for post-primary students during the period when school buildings were closed, there is considerable evidence to suggest that emergency remote learning while effective and successful for the majority of students is less effective for others. As a result, Leaving Certificate students have had uneven access to teaching and learning opportunities as they prepare for their examinations.

The Minister for Education has worked closely with representatives of students, parents, teachers, school management authorities, the State Examinations Commission and the other members of the Advisory Group on Planning for the State Examinations 2021 to examine the issues arising for students because of these circumstances.

Based on current public health advice available to the Minister, the planned written Leaving Certificate and Leaving Certificate Applied examinations can proceed in June, and the Minister has asked the State Examinations Commission to make the examinations available in as normal a manner as possible. The completion and assessment of additional components (course work, practical examinations and oral examinations) will also take place where possible in accordance with COVID-19- related restrictions.

However, following consultation with the Advisory Group, the Minister has determined that it would be unfair to have students rely entirely on the conventional Leaving Certificate process as the sole means of assessment for their Leaving Certificate in 2021. The Minister recognises the need to facilitate these students to progress to further or higher education, apprenticeship or the world of work through conventional examinations or through a system of Accredited Grades. To ensure, as far as possible, equity of opportunity for students, the Minister is making arrangements to put in place the necessary legislative requirements to enable the State Examinations Commission (SEC) to operate a system of Accredited Grades in addition to conventional examinations (inclusive, where applicable, of additional assessment components) for current Leaving Certificate students.

A Guide to State Examinations and SEC Accredited Grades for Leaving Certificate 2021Running header

In summary, Leaving Certificate 2021 results will be awarded on the basis of the better of either

  • Students’ performance in Leaving Certificate examinations in any subject taken by them, including, where appropriate, their performance in the completion of additional components (coursework, orals, etc.)



  • SEC Accredited Grades awarded to students in each subject based on schools’ estimates of students’ likely performance in the 2021 examination1 and a national standardisation process.

State Examinations

All students may opt to take Leaving Certificate examinations, (including written examinations and related additional components in each subject as appropriate) in 2021. The State Examinations Commission will put in place the necessary arrangements to provide these examinations, subject to prevailing health advice. Students who wish to take the examinations will be able to participate in orals and coursework while those who do not will have the option of the SEC Accredited Grade.

Read the full document here.

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