Informal engagement and deliberations involving the Department of Education, the second level teacher trade unions, school management bodies, and others, have continued today over how best to assess this year's Leaving Certificate students. 

As to possible alternatives to holding the exams, there is a lot of discussion going on, but much of it seems broad and speculative as yet.

There’s talk of using a mixture of; school profiles of previous attainment, Junior Certificate results, teacher or school principal professional judgments, and mock results, to produce some kind of estimate for students. 

But there are huge misgivings among teachers. Some of those concerns centre on fairness. Some shudder at reports from the UK, that just 16% of predicted grades there are accurate for instance.

Many teachers just don’t want to have anything to do with judging their own students, especially not as part of such a high stakes process. There are fears around possible legal implications. 

These kinds of concerns are concentrated around students who will be competing against each other for limited places on courses offered via the CAO process. The question is how to develop an unbiased way to differentiate between those students especially. 

In the Dáil the Taoiseach said it would be possible to hold the exams within public health guidelines. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime programme Professor Patrick Mallon, consultant in infectious diseases at St Vincent’s Hospital expressed a similar view. 

However, Leo Varadkar went on to say that restrictions would mean that those exams would not be the Leaving Cert "as we know it", and he immediately switched to the prospect of cancellation and the difficult working through of options under that scenario that were now taking place. 

Others involved in ongoing behind the scenes talks and discussions with the Department of Education express a view that the tide has turned, away from holding the exams "by hook or by crook" as the Taoiseach previously insisted. 

These are people who do not have a strong view on cancelling or proceeding per se. They talk about an "increasing and growing acceptance" that the risk is too great. 

Elsewhere, the principal of a disadvantaged school welcomed the prospect of cancellation of the exams. Her students, she says, have already more or less disengaged. 

She would like to see many more Post Leaving Certificate course places made available. 

She feels school teachers and principals are well capable of making fair professional judgments about their students and that the use of school datasets will help. 

Commenting this evening, the Ombudsman for Children welcomed the fact that teacher unions and others are talking about possible options, such as calculated grades, as "a major step forward".

Dr Niall Muldoon said any decision had to be in the best interests of the child but that he did not believe that there could be one solution that would suit everybody. 

"But if we could reduce the number of people who are unhappy", Niall Muldoon said on RTÉ’s 6.1 News, "that would be the best solution". 

"Clarity as soon as possible is the way forward", he added.