May 21, 2020
Major flaws with Minister for Education’s proposals on calculated grades – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said that there are many issues that need to be resolved with the Minister for Education’s calculated grades model.

He was speaking following the publication of the guide to implementing the calculated grades proposal, stating that further detail was welcome but there are serious issues still to be addressed.

He said:

“The success, or otherwise, of providing calculated grades depends to a significant extent on the commitment, dedication and professionalism of teachers. I know they are determined to do right by their students and to make this work in very difficult circumstances.

“It is extraordinary that it has emerged that the legal protections for teachers to protect them from litigation is not to the satisfaction of the ASTI. The Minister needs to engage on an urgent basis with the union and to ensure that whatever adjustments are necessary to provide full protection is in place.

“If the Minister wants this to work then he needs to rectify this and get the union on board.

“I still have significant concerns regarding the potential for school profiling. The language of 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 strong cohorts of students in schools where results have been weaker. In my view it needs to be dropped.

“I will be writing to the head of the steering group on calculated grades, Dr. Áine Lawlor, asking her to address this. School profiling cannot mean that students miss out on courses that could change their lives or fail when they should not.

“I am also very worried that there is no Plan B for students who are repeating or studying outside of school, 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. For students who are partially or wholly studying for the Leaving Cert outside of traditional school settings, they deserve an equal chance to get to third-level and there needs to be a Plan B to allow that.

“The solution to the Leaving Cert impasse as far as I am concerned needs to focus on opening up third-level and creating more places to allow as many students as possible to get their first choice course. Tackling the disadvantage that has gotten worse in recent weeks involves opening up access, not closing it down.”

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