Deadline for Leaving Cert registration for calculated grades extended to noon on Friday

McHugh says his department will work with schools to identify non-registered students

Some school principals have expressed concern that a significant cohort of students who have disconnected from school may not register in time for the deadline.

Some school principals have expressed concern that a significant cohort of students who have disconnected from school may not register in time for the deadline.

 

The deadline for Leaving Cert students to register for calculated grades has been extended until noon on Friday, the Minister for Education has confirmed.

Joe McHugh said on Thursday night that his department had decided to extend the deadline to enable students who had not yet registered for the grading system to sign up.

Some 1,170 Leaving Cert students had not registered for the calculated grades by 10pm on Thursday.

Meanwhile 59,859 students had signed up for the process by Thursday’s original deadline out of a total 61,029 who had been expected to sit the Leaving Cert in 2020.

The Minister said his department would try to follow up individually with schools if not all students had registered by Friday’s extended deadline.

“The Department is very conscious that there may be some students who, for some reason, may be unable to register despite the extended deadline,” a statement from the department noted. “We will continue to work with schools over the coming weeks to ensure that all students who wish to receive calculated grades are supported in having this option.”

Earlier, Mr McHugh said his officials will liaise with stakeholders to reach as many students as possible to ensure they have access to calculated grades if they wish to receive them.

“This is an important first step in the process of calculated grades,” Mr McHugh said.

“The focus now moves on to ensuring that schools send the data required to the department. The department has issued guidance to all schools on how to provide estimated marks for students, which emphasise the importance of fairness in this process.”

He said the grades process was “ totally new” and had been established as a result of Covid-19 and the difficulties in staging the Leaving Cert exams safely.

“It is great to see the high take-up in such a short space of time. Many thanks to all the students, teachers, parents and others who helped get the word out about this important process, fair play to everyone for their efforts,” he said.

He said there are some outstanding queries in the portal’s helpdesk system and those are being worked through. The helpdesk will continue to engage with those students over the coming days.

Mr McHugh said he hoped the calculated grades will issue as close as possible to the usual timeframe for exam results in mid-August.

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.”