Leaving Cert students can access their class rankings as estimated by their teachers by sending a personal data request to the Department of Education, it has emerged.
Until now the department has declined to comment on how students may access this data except to say that it has been taking legal advice on the matter.
However, the Data Protection Commission has confirmed to The Irish Times that students are entitled to have this information if they submit a "subject access request" to the department.
Deputy commissioner Graham Doyle said: "We understand that the department will give effect to individuals right to access of their personal data on request."
Under article 15 of the General Data Protection Regulation, all citizens have a right to obtain a copy of any personal information relating to them .
Students seeking their class rankings data are advised to complete a "subject access request" and send it to the department (see details below).
These requests are free of charge and the department is legally obliged to respond to a valid subject access request “without undue delay” and at the latest within one month of receiving the request.
Teachers’ estimated grades and class rankings data played a key role in determining students’ final calculated grades.
In most cases, for example, a student whose teacher estimated that they would secure a H1 grade was more likely to be awarded this the further up the class ranking they placed.
Students had been due to have access this data last Monday when details of teachers’ estimated grades were released.
However, the department reversed its position following lobbying from teachers’ unions who warned the data was highly sensitive.
How to submit a subject access request:
1. Download: A subject access request form can be downloaded from the Department of Education's website here. It isn't strictly necessary to use this form, but it may speed up the process.
2. Personal details: You'll need to fill in your personal details and provide proof of identity. This could be a copy of your photographic identity (passport, public service card, driver's licence) or other official correspondence in your name at your address.
3. Request details: The form asks what area within the Department of Education you are corresponding with.
A new section has been established within the department - the Calculated Grades Executive Office - which is not referenced on the form. In the absence of confirmation from the department on the right section to apply to, it might be best to add this in manually.
4. Send: You can send the completed form by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). It can also be sent by post to the Department of Education, Data Protection Unit, Cornamaddy, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, N37 X659