Almost 1,000 students fail to register before calculated grades deadline

Some 98% of Leaving Cert pupils sign up and will receive their results in August

Minister for Education Joe McHugh said the Department of Education will continue to engage with schools over the coming weeks in an effort to establish why some students may not have registered on the portal. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell/The Irish Times

Minister for Education Joe McHugh said the Department of Education will continue to engage with schools over the coming weeks in an effort to establish why some students may not have registered on the portal. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell/The Irish Times

 

Almost 1,000 Leaving Cert students have failed to register for their calculated grades ahead of Friday’s extended noon deadline.

A total of 98 per cent of the 61,029 students registered to sit the Leaving Cert have registered and are set to receive their results in August.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh said the Department of Education will continue to engage with schools over the coming weeks in an effort to establish why some students may not have registered on the portal.

“We will also continue to engage with schools over the coming weeks in an effort to establish if there are reasons that some students could not register,” Mr McHugh said,

“Part of that work will be to ensure all students who wish to receive calculated grades are supported.”

He said students have provided contact details through the portal and will be contacted directly when it is time to indicate if they wish to opt-in to receive their calculated grades.

It is hoped that the grades will issue as close as possible to the usual timeframe for examination results.

In a video message to the Leaving Certificate class of 2020, Mr McHugh paid tribute to the hard work of students .

He said he was conscious that Leaving Cert students have not had a chance to have the usual rite of passage and have had a different finish to their years of schooling than anyone expected.

“But you have worked hard, and now you have exciting futures ahead of you as you move on to the next stage of your lives,” he said.

“Thank you for all of your efforts and hard work and congratulations on all you have achieved. And thank you too for the important role you have played and will continue to play in stopping the spread of Covid-19.”

He said there are some outstanding queries in the grade portal’s helpdesk system and those are being worked through.

The helpdesk will continue to engage with those students over the coming days.

The calculated grades system has been established as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic and difficulties in holding the written Leaving Cert exams safely.

Students will be offered the option of receiving a certificate of calculated grades which they can use to progress to further or higher education or to work.

Warning

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, meanwhile, has urged Mr McHugh to ensure the process for calculated grades is “fair and not exacerbate inequalities in the education system”.

The move follows concerns raised by the Labour Party’s education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD and others over how “school profiling” could end up penalising talented students from disadvantaged schools.

School profiling is a reference to how students’ grades may be aligned to fit a school’s pattern of achievement or national patterns over a number of years.

Mr McHugh, however, has insisted that no student will be penalised on account of their background and the new system will recognise individual achievement.

In a letter to Mr McHugh, the commission strongly urged the department to consider its policy and guidance to schools on calculated grades in the “context of its statutory public sector equality and human rights duty”.

It said this is a positive obligation to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect the human rights of those who use its services.

Among its “strong recommendations” to the Minister include issuing specific guidance to teachers and schools on mitigating the risk of inadvertent discrimination stemming from unconscious bias.

In addition, it said all teachers involved should, as best practice, complete online training on unconscious bias to support them in carrying out the alternative grading of students.

The IHREC’s acting chief commissioner Dr Frank Conaty stated recent research from the UK indicates students who are both high-attaining and disadvantaged are more likely to receive more pessimistic grade predictions than high-attaining students from more advantaged backgrounds.

“The Department of Education and Skills’ own guide for teachers warns against the risk of unconscious bias as it relates to ‘socio-economic or family background’,” he said.

“The stakes for individual students are too high not to make every effort to mitigate the risk that discrimination - however inadvertent - could make existing inequalities even worse.”