Sinn Féin spokesperson on education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called on students who want to avail of a calculated grade to register with the portal for calculated grades, but has said that Minister McHugh and the steering group still needed to resolve some of the serious flaws with the proposal.
Speaking today, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;
“Many students are worried about how they fit into the proposal, particularly students who are studying outside the traditional school environment.
“I urge students who want a calculated grade to register, and not to leave it to the last minute. As imperfect as it may be, the reality is that this is the route to third level this year. It is important that people get it done early, and give themselves the best opportunity to access third level.
“I am very worried that there is no ‘plan-B’ for students who are repeating or studying outside of school, particularly where they aren’t taking a subject or the leaving cert under a registered teacher, and there isn’t felt to be sufficient evidence to give a calculated grade.
“This includes students repeating the leaving cert, native language speakers who are due to sit an exam in that subject, students home schooling and students taking a subject outside of school. I have been contacted by many people who are in this situation and they are concerned. As of yet the the reality is these students have not gotten any substantive reassurance from the Minister.
“My concern is that students will be expected to wait to take the written leaving cert or the subject of their choosing in late autumn or winter, too late for this year’s third level admissions.
“Those students deserve an equal opportunity to get to third-level on time and there needs to be a Plan B to allow that.
“I still have significant concerns regarding the potential for school profiling. The language from the Department has shifted in this document – partially I expect from public pressure – but I am still deeply worried that the past results of a school will limit the potential of a large portion of students in schools where results have been weaker.
“I also believe the timeframe for registering for calculated grades is very tight. Many students at this time are involved in care giving and looking after vulnerable family members. Registration should be extended until after the bank holiday, allowing for extra days to do so.
“This needs to be dropped. School profiling cannot mean that students miss out on courses that could change their lives or fail when they should not.
“Some students have also raised the issue of the work completed since March 12th.
“I welcome the appointment of Dr Áine Lawlor who is head of the steering group on calculated grades. I will be writing to her as well as the Minister for Education later today asking her to address these issues head on.
“Finally I welcome the announcement of a helpline, which is something Sinn Féin has been calling for for months now. However, it should combine the ability to answer questions with ensuring that students have adequate counselling and mental health supports, given the stressful situation students have faced in recent months”.