Finally, some long-awaited good news. Students who suffer a close bereavement in the run-up to the Leaving Certificate exams will be able to take time out and defer the exams by sitting alternative papers in July. These new provisions which are the first of their kind were announced this morning by the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh.
A review into how students are supported in the wake of the death of a close family member was commission following a recent interview with student Rhona Butler on The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio 1. In the interview, Rhona spoke about how her mother passed away in the middle of her Leaving Cert exams. With no provisions in place for bereavement, Rhona had to wake up the next day following the death of her mother and continue with her Leaving Cert exams. Rhona spoke to Ryan Tubridy to ensure that no one else has to go through what she went through. Speaking about how she coped having to set an exam the day her mother's death, Rhona said: "I don't remember anything of that day." She then had to sit three more exams that week before her mother's funeral took place.
Minister for Education, Joe McHugh thanked Rhona for bringing this issue to his attention:
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.
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
The Leaving Cert starts next week Wednesday, June 5th.