Judgment on Leaving Cert calculated grades case due within weeks

Mr Justice Charles Meenan is hearing some 60 actions brought over last year’s results

A High Court judge will give judgment within the coming weeks on the lead challenge over the calculated grades process adopted for the Leaving Certificate 2020 exam in response to the Covid pandemic.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan, when case managing some 60 other actions brought over the calculated grades, said he was adjourning those for further mention to March 10th.

He said he expected his judgment in the lead action would be available before that date so the sides in the additional cases would have had time to consider it.

The lead case, which ran for some five weeks, was brought by Belvedere College Dublin student Freddie Sherry, of Newtown, Celbridge, Co Kildare, against the Minister for Education and Skills and the State.

When it concluded on February 2nd, Mr Justice Meenan reserved his decision, saying the case involved complex facts and legal issues but he would give judgment as soon as possible. He was conscious the Leaving Cert 2021 “is now in view” and the calculated grades system may be “a matter of some importance”.

Some 60 similar actions remain on hold pending the Sherry judgment.

Mr Sherry claims a direction by the Minister last August to remove school historical records in the calculated grades process resulted in him being unfairly downgraded by 55 points in his Leaving Cert.

He said he was “hugely disappointed” his teachers’ estimated CAO points total of 542 for him was reduced to 487 under the process. His first course choice was pharmacy in TCD.

He claimed the Minister’s direction unlawfully interfered in the calculated grades process overseen by an independent steering committee.

The Minister and State denied the claims and maintained there was no reason to believe Mr Sherry would be in an improved position if historical school data was included.

They said students in Belvedere College received on average higher scores in 2020 compared to the 2017-19 period and there was no basis for any assertion Mr Sherry would have been treated more favourably in another category of school.

They also said, as the calculated grades process has been completed and CAO offers issued, any attempt to reinstate school historical data would be inappropriate or disproportionate as it would cast doubt on the results of significant numbers of students and their entitlement to college places.