Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills
Leaving Certificate Reform: Discussion with School Management Bodies
Mr. John Irwin:
If I may come in, with regard to the DEIS schools, I agree and disagree with the Deputy's comments. There are fantastic people and fantastic performance in the DEIS schools. Both Mr. Flood and Mr. Crone have referenced how the programme has been generally very successful. However, there is a difference between the DEIS programme in rural areas and in urban areas. In certain urban areas, if there is a DEIS school which is very inclusive, it is significantly more likely to carry a greater burden and to serve a greater range of students than other schools within the area. There is still a little bit of an issue with soft barriers in certain schools irrespective of admissions policy. Some schools are seen as the school that you would attend. There is still a little bit of that. Mr. Crone mentioned stigma. There is still a little bit of that, particularly in larger urban settings. However, there are also tremendous successes. We have 96 community and comprehensive schools. Of that 96, 30 are DEIS schools. We are a great proponent of supporting the DEIS programme, as Mr. Curtis has said.
With regard to grade inflation, we have to really look at what the purpose of the senior cycle is. We are married to progression to third level. That has a great backwash effect on the entire senior cycle. This is a particular problem at a particular time because of a particular crisis. I agree fully with Mr. Flood that, when we bring in new systems and an extended and far more diverse range of assessments, including in-school assessment, we will have to have more robust moderation systems in place to ward against that type of inflation and to ensure consistency over and across years.