Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.44 30 Sep 2020


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The way Leaving Cert students have been treated in 2020 is 'heartbreaking and disgraceful', Labour leader Alan Kelly has said.

Deputy Kelly was speaking after it was confirmed today that two errors had been discovered in the Leaving Cert calculated grading process.

Education Minister Norma Foley said around 6,500 Leaving Cert students received a lower grade than they should have - and their results will now be upgraded.

The revelation has prompted sharp criticism from opposition parties, teachers' unions and student groups.

The Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon described the news as 'scandalous', while Sinn Féin said it was an 'extraordinary development'.

Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, Deputy Kelly said he thought he'd 'seen it all' before today's news - but he 'probably has' now.

Treatment of Leaving Cert students has been 'disgraceful' - Kelly

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He said: "This is shocking. It's heartbreaking the way students have been treated.

"You hear an awful lot on the COVID side of things... people giving out about young people. But we need to look closer to the people who are running the country... the adults and people in the political system... look at the way students have been treated in 2020. It's shambolic and disgraceful."

He argued there are now many questions to be answered and issues to be dealt with for affected students.

He observed: "The minister could not guarantee that anybody who is upgraded... and gets a course higher in the CAO... [gets] those places.

"What is the fallback for all of these people? The Minister needs to deal with the consequences.

"This Friday is the deadline to apply if you want to do the Leaving Cert written [exams]... in fairness to anyone looking at doing this, they need more time."

Deputy Kelly also questioned whether money already spent on courses and accommodation will be recouped for students who might now be offered a higher preference course.

'We thought this was the end'

Reuban Murray, President of the Irish Second Level Students Union, said the errors should not have happened.

He said: "It's going to have a real impact for 6,500 students. We had thought the Leaving Cert process was over, and could transition to the next stage of our lives.

"There are a lot of questions for students... 'could I have got my first choice?'

"We thought this had finished. We thought this was the end... but now we're finding out it's not over yet."

"It's not these students fault that this happened. We need to make sure they can progress to the course that they would have gotten to - if that's next year through a deferred place, or by starting the course now."

Mr Murray said there's a going to be a long-term impact, as deferred places this year means there'll be increased demand and competition for courses next year.

He said a "creative solution" to get every student where they need to go is now needed, and that it's vital that the traditional written exams take place for the class of 2021.

Main image: File photo of Alan Kelly. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

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