Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Education and Skills
224. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if a copy of all correspondence between 1 April 2020 and 8 May 2020 relating to planning for the 2020 leaving certificate between any combination of him and his office and or persons (details supplied) will be provided. [6054/20]
The Deputy has asked to see correspondence relating to planning for the 2020 Leaving Certificate.
The implementation of the Government Decision on the postponement of the Leaving Certificate and the provision of calculated grades is now underway, including in collaboration with education partners. An Executive Office has been established within my Department for the purposes of operating the calculated grades model which is working through the detail of the processes required to give effect to the Government’s Decision. The advisory group on State examinations continues to meet, and there are engagements ongoing with stakeholders. Detailed guidance is being issued to teachers, deputy principals and principals on how to operate the calculated grades system.
In this context, my focus is on ensuring learners and educational professionals are supported in this process, and I do not consider that it is appropriate at this stage to consider the release of any of the correspondence requested by the Deputy until all matters related to the Leaving Certificate and calculated grades for 2020 have been completed.
In considering the Deputy’s request, I have had regard to the guidance on parliamentary questions which seek copies of correspondence, which was approved by the Ceann Comhairle during the last Dáil and circulated by the Houses of the Oireachtas service on 16 October 2019. I am mindful in particular of the need to provide a substantive answer to the Deputy’s request for information concerning planning for the Leaving Certificate.
I have been very open in this House about the decision-making process which underpinned my decision-making and that of the Government. I was clear that I made every effort to run the 2020 Leaving Certificate as close as possible to the way the examinations were originally intended to be held. On 10 April, having regard to the information available to me at that time, I announced the postponement of the State examinations and certain other alternative arrangements. I established an advisory group on State examinations, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, to undertake stakeholder engagement and advise me on the range of issues which arise in the context of examinations and assessment in the context of the pandemic.
On 8 May, following a Government Decision, I announced the postponement of the Leaving Certificate and indicated that students would be given the option of accepting calculated grades or sitting Leaving Certificate written examinations at a later date. I had regard to the assessments which were provided to me that the Leaving Certificate examinations cannot be held in a reliable and valid manner, nor in a way that would be equitable for students.
I have published material which was important in informing my decision-making, including a summary of the challenges in organising conventional examinations
and advice related to the mental health and wellbeing of young people
I also sought legal advice from the Attorney General.