Oral exams for tens of thousands of Leaving Cert students across the country are set to take place during the Easter break between March 26th and April 15th.
The exams will be held in the schools, and will be carried out out by a teacher appointed by the school and will be audio-recorded.
These recordings will be forwarded to the SEC, which will appoint examiners to award marks based on the recordings.
In a normal year, an external examiner appointed by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) carries out an oral language interview with candidates and assesses their performance.
In new official guidelines issued to secondary schools, it is stated that Leaving Cert students will not be permitted to wear face masks during oral exams.
Instead, Perspex screens will be used between candidates and teachers during interviews on the basis that masks would interfere with clear communication and recordings.
Under public health rules, the interviewer must remain in the same room for the duration of the work.
The candidate and interviewer must be separated by at least 2m, while students will be required to use their own pens to sign relevant documents.
No sharing of documents with picture sequences, topic cards and role-plays will be permitted – unless they can be sanitised between candidates.
All surfaces and the digital recording equipment will need to be sanitised between interviews, while rooms must be adequately ventilated.
According to the Irish Times, the interviewer should be a registered or retired teacher who has sufficient proficiency in the relevant language to carry out the interviews properly, and no interviewer should be allowed to carry out an interview with a close relative.
In cases where teachers or interviewers are not Garda vetted, a fast-track vetting process will be put in place to ensure they are processed in time.
Interviewers will be given confidential instructions and will be required to ensure evidence of each candidate’s level of achievement is elicited and recorded in accordance with the instructions.
The guidance warns that if a teacher does not give enough time to the interview or omits to cover certain areas of required questioning, the SEC will not be able to compensate for this.
“Such a candidate might then receive a lower mark than they would have if the interview had been carried out in full accordance with the guidance. Schools must make every effort to ensure that the interviews are carried out properly in the first place,” it states.
Students categorised as “very high risk” along with those forced to self-isolated for Covid-19 reasons may have their interview over Zoom or other video-conferencing platforms.