Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called on the Minister for Education to ensure that plans to replace the traditional Leaving Cert format during the Covid-19 pandemic do not unfairly penalise pupils from already disadvantaged backgrounds.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“I have raised my concerns about school profiling with the Minister for Education and this aspect of his plan needs to be dropped. It would be one thing if all else among schools was equal apart from results, but the fact is that schools magnify the disadvantage felt by communities.
“Students who deserve the chance at a life changing course will miss out and students who should not fail a subject, or the Leaving Cert, will fail. That is totally wrong. Tackling the disadvantage that has gotten worse in recent weeks involves opening up access, not closing it down.”
Teachta Ó Laoghaire also called for careful consideration to be given to what material is used when calculating a predicted grade.
“Predicted, or calculated grades, are far from reliable – even where they have long been built in to the system. Here we have no real experience of this.
“Teachers are working with students who had no expectation that their mock exams or Christmas tests would potentially carry such weight. There are plenty of students who know they can perform well late in the day, and there are many students who are repeating a subject or who are studying a subject outside of traditional school settings.
“It is vital that the Minister sets out how those students will get their grades, and it is vital that he sets out the guidance outlining what material will be used to devise a calculated grade.”