School profiling proposal is highly problematic

10 May 2020

Labour Party Education spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has said the usage of school data or ‘school profiling’ in the calculation of Leaving Certificate grades is highly problematic.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“The way in which school data will be used in the calculation grades as per the guidelines on calculated/predicted grades published by the Department of Education and Skills on Friday, is really concerning.

“The guidelines advise that any grades that teachers calculate will then be adjusted to bring them into line with the ‘expected distribution for the school’. The Government can spin this anyway they want but this is school profiling.

“The Leaving Certificate has been an equaliser up until this point in the sense that all exam papers have been sent to Athlone to be distributed and corrected anonymously. Those correcting the exams didn’t know whose paper they had corrected or what school the paper came from.

“The issue with school profiling is that for students who are trying to break out of poverty or disadvantage, it is completely unfair that the history or reputation of their school may hold them back.

“The Government and the Department of Education, have long upheld the notion that publishing school profiling or their own league tables is unfair, that is why they don’t allow Freedom of Information requests into their own internal school profiling system. If the Department itself knows that there is an element of unfairness to school profiling, why is it being used to aid in the calculation of Leaving Certificate grades?

“The Labour Party has absolutely no trust or indeed confidence in a system that will essentially pit schools against each other. You cannot bring a student down based on a school’s past performance.

“While we understand that the Government’s Plan B is the option being put to students and their teachers now, we cannot accept any element of school profiling. It has the potential to leave students at a massive disadvantage.

“The Minister for Education needs to review this immediately. We have a very short timeframe to get this right – we cannot drag this process out and mess with the heads of very vulnerable Leaving Certificate students.

“Education is supposed to be the great equaliser in Ireland, there is nothing equal or fair about school profiling, especially for those who are in disadvantaged areas.”

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