LEAVING Certificate students have welcomed the news their schools’ previous academic performance will not influence their grades this year.
At a briefing this week, Minister for Education Norma Foley confirmed that the department has dropped plans to use a school’s previous academic record to assess this year’s grades.
The predicted grades of teachers will now carry more weight, with results due to be released next week.
The move has been welcomed by both students and teachers.
Speaking to The Echo, Alicia O’Sullivan, a Leaving Certificate student in Cork and education officer for the Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU) said: “We welcome the removal of the school profiling from the calculation of the grades for the Leaving Cert class of 2020.
“We think it is the right decision given what we’ve seen in other jurisdictions.
“We have also always advocated that where you go to school should never be a determining factor in your grades so we are extremely happy to see this,” she added.
“We’re also extremely happy to see the additional places in third level given by Minister Harris.
“We’re happy that an equal and equitable solution has been found.
“Our focus going forward now is to ensure that any Leaving Cert 2020 students who sit the exams in November are supported.”
The ISSU is assisting the National Parents Council Post-Primary with its helpline which will offer support and advice for students between September 7 and 12.
“We’ll also be working to support these students from now until the exams,” Ms O’Sullivan said.
Kevin Barry, of Coláiste Éamann Rís, a Deis school in Ballyphehane believes the UK “fiasco” led to the department scrambling to avoid the same embarrassment.
“It’s good news that they’re compensating and making it less discriminatory,” he said.
The average reduction in marks following standardisation is 0.8% in Deis schools, while the reduction is 1.3% in non-Deis schools. In Deis schools, 81.2% of grades are unchanged while in non-Deis schools the figure is 79.4%.
Richard Terry, a history and maths teacher in St Colman’s College in Fermoy and a member of Fermoy’s branch of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland, said the news also highlighted the good work from teachers.
“I imagine the Department of Education changed its approach in the wake of the controversy in the UK, which I think is a positive thing,” said Mr Terry.
“We won’t know everything until the results come out next week but it is heartening to see the vast majority of students receive grades their teachers predicted. It stands to the teaching profession as a whole that, with this task suddenly heaped upon them, the vast majority of teachers made this professional judgement that stood.”