For the Scott twins from Laois, it was a case of relief on the double when liberation from the Leaving Cert was announced last week, leaving lots of time for helping out on the family farm.

Ellen and Maeve Scott from outside Borris-in-Ossory, who will turn 18 at the end of this month, have attended Mountrath Community School for the past six years. Ellen said that the Leaving Cert liberation came as a relief to them as they were listening to all the discussions in the media and trying to forecast what was going to happen.

Previous to the cancellation, we felt overwhelmed at the thought of studying throughout the summer. We had been working hard since the school closed on March 12, and the weeks ahead to July 29 seemed such a long haul.

Continuing, Ellen said: “We are pretty happy with the decision and we have faith in the new system. I trust that the teachers know our abilities and that fairness and equity is at the centre of the Leaving Cert 2020 decision. I suppose some students will panic, worry and find it difficult to accept the change but I feel there is no other solution.

“Our principal and year head held an assembly for students and parents and this really put our minds at ease. The whole process of calculating the grades was explained and this helped us to understand that even in this unprecedented situation, we have been given a win-win solution. If we are not happy with the calculated grades we have an option to appeal and to sit the exam,” she said.

Lots of space

Liberation from the Leaving Cert came after a tough time in keeping motivated.

“We have had good and bad days. We are lucky to live out in the country, on a farm with lots of space and lots to do,” Ellen said.

“We were fortunate with both of us studying for the Leaving Cert, we kept a good routine of study going and had lots to do with online lessons and assignments. We could also work on subjects together and this helped us to stay motivated. We found being away from school tough as we miss our friends, teachers and the whole school community.”

They haven’t got their CAO choices finalised and have very different interests for their future studies.

“While I am more interested in science, Ellen is more interested in business,” stated Maeve.

“We are now focusing on our order of preference on our CAO change of mind and getting our course choices in order. At least now we have time to research our course options and make the best possible outcome whatever the grades may be.”

Liberation from the Leaving Cert has left them free to do plenty of jobs around the farm needing to be done, said Ellen.

We live on a mixed farm with sheep, calf to beef and tillage. We have had two pet lambs to rear since we finished school. We were called on to pick stones for a few afternoons and being around home more we have helped out a lot more in recent weeks.

Ellen works in a local shop and Maeve is looking for summer work.

“We have a lot of painting and other jobs at home to keep me busy. Our older brother is helping on the farm and is in ag college and interested in a career in farming in the future,” said Maeve.

Traditional music

“We have a keen interest in traditional Irish music and it is our passion. Ellen plays the fiddle and sings and I play the harp, concertina and whistle. We started playing music at the age of six, we became members of Camross Comhaltas branch and are still there to this day,” she said.

“Every year we travel to the county, provincial and All-Ireland Fleadh, Willie Clancy and other festivals and they will all be sadly missed this summer. We are lucky that our parents and siblings play music also.

“We realised just how much we missed our music when we played at an online concert from a local church in Rathdowney parish last week. It was great to get out of the house,” Maeve said.