Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.39 18 Aug 2020


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We should trust teachers rather than an algorithm to determine this year's Leaving Cert grades, according to Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

The Labour TD says there's a need to be 'generous' to students this year when it comes to calculated grading, which has been put in place after the traditional exams were cancelled.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin was speaking amid the growing scandal in the UK over their calculated grading process - a controversy which has prompted a number of major reversals.

Education Minister Norma Foley has insisted the system here - which will include a 'national standardisation process' that considers schools' examination history - will be fair to students.

In a statement today she stressed there are "significant differences" between the UK model and the one being implemented here, including the Irish system being "much more focused on the performance of individual students".

However, Deputy Ó Ríordáin told The Hard Shoulder his party his never believed the 'school profiling' element of the grading could be fair.

Teachers should be trusted to grade Leaving Cert students - Ó Ríordáin

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

He explained: "We feel that mechanism is going to doubly disadvantage disadvantaged students.

"The Department hasn't accepted what we said... and we had no evidence really to back up our claims - until what happened in the UK.

"Basically they have adopted a very similar system - where teachers gave grades, and then they went through an algorithm which was to produced a set of results.

"A huge number of these results have been downgraded, and disproportionately for disadvantaged students."

He said the situation in the UK is "the biggest education story in a generation", and there's now a need for Ireland to look at what has happened there.

'Stunned silence'

The Labour TD suggested Minister Foley has three options: to come out and say the system here is different and the problems won't happen here; to scrap the school profiling element of grading; or having a mechanism in place to swiftly correct any issues that arise.

However, he said there has been "stunned silence" from the Department of Education - suggesting the Minister is 'marked absent'.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin warned that young people's "lives and futures are at stake here".

He argued we should be generous in 2020 rather than implementing an algorithm that could potentially set students back.

He observed: "I absolutely do trust teachers - in fact, if the system was to be re-calibrated to only have the teacher grading then we would accept that.

"I'd be much more at ease with trusting the teachers of the country in this year 2020 than trusting an algorithm."

Main image: File photo of Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. Picture by: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

 


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