Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire calls for clarity around calculated grades model

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire calls for clarity around calculated grades model
18/08/2020 (L to R) Sinn Fein spokesperson on Education Donnchadh O Laoghaire TD Rose Conway Walsh TD during a press breifing on School transport by Sinn Fein on the Plinth of Leinster House Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin's Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called for full clarity in how the calculated grades model will be used in the Leaving and Junior Certificate exams.

As students await their results in the coming weeks, Sinn Féin said the model for calculated grades needs to be published.

It comes following a U-turn by Northern Ireland Education Minister Peter Weir to move away from centralised standardisation to teachers' estimates.

Around 11,000 grades were downgraded from teachers' estimates last week.

Mr Ó Laoghaire, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on education, said that students and parents have been concerned over what has happened in England, Scotland, Wales and the North.

"There is a keen sense of injustice that students have their results downgraded because of who they were, because where they were from and because of the school that they went to and the past results that existed there," he said. "What we have in this jurisdiction is we have huge concern that those issues could be replicated here.

"I wrote to the Minister for Education (Norma Foley) two months ago asking for the model to be published.

"I was told that the model wouldn't be published until after results have been given.

"So the question has to be asked, what is there to hide?

"Why would the standardisation model, the school profiling model, not be published?

"Why can we not have sight of it, and why can we not have the opportunity to have confidence restored in the system and to create greater confidence for students?"

He said the model needs to be scrapped if it contains the same flaws and weaknesses as those seen in the UK education system.

Mr Ó Laoghaire also said the Minister for Education needs to appear before the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee.

"There has been an absence of leadership from the Department of Education right from the start of this pandemic," he added.

"It needs to be subject to public debate, it needs to be interrogated and then we need to see where we go from there to ensure that students here don't face the same profound injustices that happened elsewhere.

"I think that the way that the briefings are being handled right from the start, four or five o'clock on the Friday, no opportunity to scrutinise it is absolutely wrong and I do believe the minister needs to come forward and answer questions, certainly in the media, but I believe in the Covid committee, so we can interrogate these issues."

Meanwhile party colleague Darren O'Rourke said that parents of children with underlying health conditions are concerned about transport.

"There is isn't enough detail in terms of the proposals that are there to address those concerns, so it's important the minister comes before the Covid committee," Mr O'Rourke added.

"There is a question over the number of bus drivers available because a number of them are quite vulnerable and decide not to return to the sector."

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