Answers needed on Legality of Predictive grading

07 May 2020

Labour Education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said tonight that if the Leaving Cert is to be cancelled tomorrow by the Fine Gael Cabinet we will need firm answers immediately on the legality of a Plan B that includes predictive grading.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“I’ve been calling for a Plan B on the Leaving Cert for some time and this has been handled appalling so far, and the last thing we need tomorrow is Cabinet decision that causes further uncertainty.

“If predictive grading is the replacement Plan B we need assurance tomorrow that it is legally sound.

“Introducing a new system entirely based on predictive grading would not satisfy the Minister’s obligation under law to hold a state examination of secondary school students, but while predictive grading could be part of the solution previously for students who cannot attend exams – for medical or other reasons – the Minister needs to be clear tomorrow that whatever he proposes is legally sound and if new legislation will be needed.

“In all of this, it is vitally important that a ‘Leaving Certificate’ of sound standing is awarded to every student leaving secondary school this year. I am also deeply concerned about school profiling and the impact on disadvantaged students.

“For example, we need to know how a Plan B will deal with the potential for bias when teachers are marking their own students. We need to know how the replacement certificate will ensure students have access to public jobs that require a leaving certificate. The list of issues and complications is long.

“Also, thousands of young people will not go on to third level, and the Leaving Certificate will be their only formal qualification. We must prevent a scenario that would see some going to college based on predictive grading, but others going into the workplace with no qualification whatsoever.

“The existing Leaving Certificate system is not fit for purpose, but any emergency changes must bear in mind how seriously this could affect young people’s lives and their future opportunities, especially those who will leave formal education after secondary school.

“The Minister’s delays and failure to communicate clearly on this slow train wreck have already failed this year’s cohort of students. Tomorrow we need a crystal clear Plan B.”

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