Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that – while the removal of a school’s past performance from the calculated grades process is welcome – the Minister for Education still needs to be fully transparent and to publish the model.
“Sinn Féin did not advocate for a calculated grades model. We outlined an alternative approach and were particularly concerned about the school profiling aspect of the Department’s proposal.
“Since the cancellation of the Leaving Cert, we have made it very clear that it was unacceptable that a student, or a talented cohort, could see their results marked down because of where they are from, or the past results of their school.
“We predicted that students from disadvantaged backgrounds would lose out and it has been shown very clearly that this is exactly what happened elsewhere.
“The Minister has come under severe pressure; from Sinn Féin, from educationalists, from students and many others. She has acknowledged now that it is unconscionable for students to potentially be denied the opportunity of their dream course because of where they go to school.
“However, the Minister still needs to be fully transparent and there are still significant questions that need to be answered.
“If the Minister is so confident in the fairness of the model, why will she no allow us to see the standardisation model until after the results are released? What is there to hold back?
“If the Minister wants to ensure students have confidence in the model, she should do that. Because there are still areas of concern, such as how the annual national standardisation will be applied and the weight attached to that. Similarly if students have moved schools between the Junior Cert and the Leaving Cert, what will be the benchmark that will be used for them in that element of the standardisation?
“These questions require the publication of the model and there is not good reason not to provide full transparency.
“There will also be knock-on implications of the calculated grades model for those CAO applicants who sat last years, or a previous years, Leaving Cert. There should be an appropriate number of spaces allocated to this category of student to ensure a relative level playing field.
“I am also of the view that – in light of the extraordinary circumstances of the Leaving Cert of 2020 – that each and every student should be entitled to resit the Leaving Cert for free, with no tuition or other costs, at any point in the coming years, and that the State should facilitate this. It would be a small but practically useful gesture in recognition of the extraordinary and extreme circumstances of 2020.”