Recent research was carried out by Prof. Sinéad McGilloway and Penny Quinn (PhD scholar) of the CMHCR and Dr. Jolanta Burke (Assistant Professor at Maynooth University Department of Education) to investigate the mental health and well-being of the Leaving Certificate Class of 2020.


These students have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of sudden school closures, the Leaving Certificate exams being cancelled, the calculated grades system and having missed out on many milestone experiences during this time.


Compared to the results of a wellbeing survey of Leaving Certificate students in 2015, this year’s school leavers are faring “notably worse”, particularly regarding mental health. The wellbeing of more than 60 per cent of school leavers surveyed is classed as “poor”, while 46 per cent of the students reported high levels of depression and/or anxiety. A similar proportion (44 per cent) reported they were not coping well during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, almost three-quarters of participants identified calculated/predicated grades as their preferred alternative to the traditional Leaving Certificate.


The findings from this research suggest an urgent need for additional funding and resources to support young people as they transition to Third Level education or employment during this global crisis.

For more details on this research, see the following articles by Maynooth University and the Irish Times:

The full research report can be read here: MU-Leaving-Cert-2020-Survey-Full-Report