Answers needed on legal indemnity for teachers

21 May 2020

Responding to reports that the ASTI is advising its teachers to wait until it has received appropriate legal protection before engaging with the new Leaving Cert grades system, Labour Education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said:

“This is an extremely worrying development in the Leaving Cert 2020 debacle and frankly highlights the legal fragility of this year’s set-up.

“From the outset, the Labour Party has warned that the alternative Leaving Cert plans were on shaky legal grounds.

“It now appears from reports this evening that the ASTI is also not satisfied that the legal indemnity announced by Government today is up to the legal standards required.

“Without the vital support of the whole teaching body, the entire Leaving Cert is in jeopardy.

“We have raised concerns about two aspects of the new arrangements.

“Firstly, what legal power does the Minister have to offer an indemnity to teachers and principals who participate in a non-statutory scheme that he has organised, in substitution for statutory exams?

“Secondly, in the absence of a supplementary estimate to cover spending on a new activity, what funds are available to the Minister to organise this non-statutory scheme? The Minister should inform us how much this is projected to cost.

“We still have no legal clarity on what standing the predicted grades that will be awarded to students in this year’s Leaving Cert will have.

“The move by Government to indemnify teachers and schools for fear of legal action by students and parents down the line raises serious questions about the legality of the exam.

“It is absolutely essential now that the legal advice received by Government to cancel the exam in the first place is published.

“There can be absolutely no doubt about the legality of any aspect of the revised Leaving Cert plans and we need clarity from Government on this as a matter of urgency.”

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