Written answers

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Department of Education and Skills

State Examinations

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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476. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her views on whether students from County Donegal that received conditional offers from colleges and universities in Northern Ireland will be at a disadvantage following the postponement of the leaving certificate results; if her attention has been drawn to the concern the matter has caused amongst students; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18580/20]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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The Leaving Certificate results will issue on 7th September 2020.  Upon engagement by my officials with UCAS, (the UK equivalent of the CAO), it has indicated that this can be accommodated within their revised timelines for 2020.  As a result, students pursuing their studies in Northern Ireland and the UK will not be at a disadvantage.

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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477. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 534 of 14 July 2020 and 684 of 21 July 2020, when a response will issue (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18581/20]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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A system of Calculated Grades was put in place by my predecessor due to the inability to run the normal Leaving Certificate examinations this year. The purpose of this process is to allow as many students as possible to progress to employment, further education and training, or higher education in a way that is fair and equitable to all Leaving Certificate students.

For the calculated grades system to be operated with integrity, an estimated percentage mark, based on credible, satisfactory evidence, can only be accepted from an appropriate source. This is necessary to ensure fairness to all students. 

The Calculated Grades Executive Office in my Department developed a comprehensive guide to calculated grades for out-of-school learners – those students who are studying entirely outside of school – and contacted each student individually on 25 June to invite them to apply for calculated grades.  The closing date for applications was Thursday 2 July 2020 and applications are now being processed.

In cases where a student who is attending school, but who is studying one or more subjects outside of school, school principals were asked to make every effort to provide an estimated mark for that subject(s) provided there was sufficient, credible evidence available from an appropriate source. If the principal was unable to provide an estimated mark for any student they were asked to notify the Calculated Grades Executive Office of my Department.

As part of its commitment to ensure that a calculated grade is provided to as many students as possible, the CGEO are currently undertaking a review of these reports with the schools involved to ensure that the correct procedures were followed.

Despite every effort being made by schools and by the Department of Education, to provide calculated grades to as many students as possible, there will be a small number of cases where there is no credible evidence to support a calculated grade in a particular subject. To attempt to give a calculated grade in such cases would be unfair to all other candidates.

Such students will have an opportunity to sit the Leaving Certificate examinations when it is safe to do so.

I can confirm that the Calculated Grades Executive Office have received an application in respect of the student named above.

No decisions have yet been issued by the Calculated Grades Executive Office in respect of any of students studying independently. However, the issue of decision letters in these cases will commence later this week.  

My Department has continued to engage with third level stakeholders regarding the Calculated Grades process for students seeking to progress to Higher Education. This has resulted in an agreed common approach in relation to students who have not been able to obtain calculated grades in one or more subjects. Students who have applied for a calculated grade, with a view to satisfying matriculation/basic minimum entry requirements and for whom the Department has been unable to award a Calculated Grade in the subject(s), will be granted an exemption in the subject(s) solely for matriculation/basic minimum entry purposes.

The CGEO will notify the Central Applications Office (CAO) of any student who cannot be provided with calculated grades, and of the subjects involved, and the exemption from matriculation/basic minimum entry will be granted automatically by the CAO.  The subject(s) for which exemption is granted will not attract points and the exemption cannot be used to satisfy additional programme requirements over and above the matriculation/basic minimum entry requirements.

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