Leaving Cert students will not have access to ‘highly sensitive’ class ranking data
Teachers’ unions feared details would damage student relationships
Minister for Education Norma Foley said that while students were entitled to their personal data, she confirmed that a query had been raised around the issue. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography
Leaving Cert students will not be able to access “highly sensitive” details of their class ranking when their calculated grades are released following lobbying by teachers’ unions.
Secondary schools were required to provide an estimated mark for each student, along with a rank order of students for each class, and send this information to the Department of Education.
All Leaving Cert students had been due to be able to see this information online from September 14th, a week after receiving their calculated grades, in the interests of transparency over the grading process.
However, a department spokeswoman confirmed late last night that students will not now get access to their class ranking on this date.
Instead, they will only have access to their estimated percentage marks provided by their schools.
“The department is seeking legal advice on the matter of providing class rank order to candidates. This position has been advised to the advisory group of stakeholders and a further update will be provided to them as soon as possible,” the spokeswoman said.
It follows alarm among teachers’ unions that the move could damage relationships with students and impact on pupils’morale.
Some teachers in rural areas, in particular, are worried about how the information would be received by neighbours, relations or friends in their classes.
Speaking during an Oireachtas committee meeting on Wednesday evening, prior to the department’s late-night announcement, Minister for Education Norma Foley said there had been an agreed process and students were entitled to their personal data.
However, she confirmed that a query had been raised around the issue.
“We are currently taking advice on that. That’s where it stands at this time,” she said.
Martin Marjoram, president of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland, said the information was “extraordinarily sensitive” and members had a “clear understanding” it would only be revealed under an appeal process or data application request.
“We were dismayed to hear differently and that it was being made available through a portal.
“Our members co-operated on something that was almost anathema to them, to put such rankings down on paper and to put down on paper the position of children they had supported and kept in school and whose morale they had boosted,” Mr Marjoram said.
Kieran Christie, general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, said the union has also made strong representations to the department.
In comments made prior to the department’s announcement, he said: “We are jointly beating that drum with the department hope to get resolution sooner than later. We are working hard on that. It came as a shock to us when plans were brought forward. Members are not happy and we are going to do something about it.”
It is understood that the two secondary teachers’ unions held a number of meetings with the department in recent weeks, after The Irish Times reported earlier this month that students would have access to their class ranking data.