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What the School Roadmap means for the Class of 2021

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The impact of COVID-19 has been felt by all students and the loss of face-to-face teaching hours experienced by the incoming exam students in September has been of major concern to students, parents and teachers. The long awaited guidelines published by the Government earlier this week, ‘Reopening Our Schools – The Roadmap for the Full Return to School’, have addressed the concerns in relation to incoming third and sixth year students. It has been recognised that in light of the huge disruption to classroom teaching, changes are needed in relation to assessment for certificate for these exam students. The detailed arrangements in relation to the Junior Certificate examinations in 2021 will be made available before the start of the school year, but the guidelines clearly state the number of classroom based assessments to be completed by those entering third year has been reduced and the dates of completion of some elements will be extended into the new school year.

Leaving Cert Class of 2021

The Department have also recognised that some changes will be needed in the assessments for students sitting the traditional Leaving Cert, Leaving Cert Applied and Leaving Cert Vocational Programme in 2021. There is no plan to change the structure of questions or the assessment components as both students and teachers are very familiar with these and have been planning towards them all through fifth year. The changes will vary across subjects but in all cases they will involve some combination of the following:

* Students will be provided with greater choice in written exams through the provision of additional questions and/or adjustments to mandatory sections on written examination papers.

* The dates on which coursework briefs are issued will be brought forward to allow extra preparation time for students and teachers.

*In some subjects, changes to the requirements for practical exams will be made to reflect the need to manage access to equipment necessary to complete such exams.

* In the case of LCA students, the number of tasks to be completed will be reduced from three to two.

* Arrangements for the examination of the tasks, to include interviews, will be based on the most up-to-date public health advice.

Additional supports to students

As well as the adjustments to the examinations the Government has placed emphasis on supporting student well-being across all year groups in the transition back to the school environment and during the ongoing stress and anxiety caused to young people during the pandemic. An allocation of 1,080 additional teaching posts, including 120 guidance counsellor posts, will be provided to ensure that students are getting optimum teaching and learning opportunities as well the personal, social, educational and vocational support that is so badly needed at any time, but particularly at a time of uncertainty. Full details of the Roadmap can be assessed on www.assets.gov.ie.

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore & PRO of Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She can be contacted on careerfocusnow@gmail.com.

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One way traffic system mooted for St Oliver’s National School

The Killarney Advertiser understands that a one-way traffic management system will be introduced at St Oliver’s National School. The plan remains subject to confirmation by Kerry County Council and other […]

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The Killarney Advertiser understands that a one-way traffic management system will be introduced at St Oliver’s National School.

The plan remains subject to confirmation by Kerry County Council and other statutory bodie. It is  understood that the system will be trialled at the beginning of the new school year in September.

The area is subject to serious traffic congestion during school drop-off and pick-up times every day.

Over 650 pupils and 80 staff attend the school every day. New housing developments in the area have added to traffic congestion.

Cllr Martin Grady has being pushing for enhanced road safety measures at the school since his co-option to the council in September 2023.

“The issue has worsened in recent years with Woodlawn, Rookery Road and Ballycasheen having more domestic property developments which brings with it more road activity,” Grady told the Killarney Advertiser.

“I’ve seen first-hand several accidents occur when dropping and collecting my children from the school. It needs a safe solution by means of a drop off- pick up point or a traffic management system put in place.

“It is unfair on all stakeholders involved. I will keep working on this until results are achieved in the interest of everyone’s safety. “

The lack of urban school bus services, not just at St Oliver’s but at all schools is adding to Killarney’s traffic woes.

“I would like to see school bus services return for all students, in both urban and rural schools, this service was a massive loss, it would greatly reduce the volume of traffic on our roads and mitigate the risk of accidents and near misses,” added Cllr Grady.

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Planning rules “nonsensical in a housing crisis” Cllr Healy-Rae

A planning rule which prevents people from building houses on their own land next to major roads is being challenged by Cllr Maura Healy Rae. The current planning policy states […]

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A planning rule which prevents people from building houses on their own land next to major roads is being challenged by Cllr Maura Healy Rae.

The current planning policy states that any application house along national primary and national secondary roadways exiting from existing entrances will not be considered.
Healy-Rae says this problem is particularly acute in the Killarney Municipal District given the amount of national roadway surrounding the area with the N22, N71 and N72.
“It is nonsensical that where an individual is living at home and using an existing entrance, can’t be considered to build their own house and use existing entrance they are already using,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.
“How Transport Infrastructure Ireland can quantify this as additional traffic is preposterous. Given we are in a housing crisis, given all the challenges surrounding planning, given exorbitant house prices and the lack of affordable housing, it is ludicrous that this is a reason people are being refused planning.”
She called on Kerry County Council to write to the TII, the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Local Government requesting that the current blanket policy be lifted.
“It [the policy] has directly resulted in numerous planning applications being refused and even considered at the pre-planning stage,” she added.
Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae has also raised the issue in Dáil Éireann.

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