Use of 'school profiling' for Leaving Cert grades would be 'completely unacceptable' - Ó Ríordáin

Plans for school profiling as part of calculated grading were previously scrapped back in 2020.
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.55 27 Jan 2022

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Use of 'school profiling' for...

Use of 'school profiling' for Leaving Cert grades would be 'completely unacceptable' - Ó Ríordáin

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.55 27 Jan 2022

Share this article

Using school profiling as part of Leaving Cert grading would be "completely unfair", Labour's Aodhán Ó Ríordáin says.

He said such an approach would be "unacceptable" to both the opposition and many people in the education sector.

There have been growing calls in recent weeks for the Government to agree on a hybrid model for this year's Leaving Cert - a system using both traditional exams and calculated grades.


Talks are continuing on the issue, with the Government so far not ruling out a hybrid system.

However, the Irish Times today reports that the Government's now been told by senior officials that calculated grading this year could require the use of controversial “school profiling” to ensure consistency across marks.

It comes amid concerns that there's less data available to calculate grades, as some students in this year's Leaving Cert cohort did not sit the Junior Cert in 2020 - a year when the State exams were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Previous plans to use school profiling data - i.e. a schools' historical academic record - as part of calculated grading were scrapped back in 2020, amid concerns that students attending disadvantaged schools were at risk of being treated unfairly.

On Newstalk Breakfast, Deputy Ó Ríordáin - who is calling for a hybrid Leaving Cert in 2022 - said school profiling is still not an acceptable approach.

He said: “I find this morning’s report deeply unhelpful - the minister just needs to make a decision. I don’t think leaks like this or reports like this really help anyone.

“She could have made a decision in November, December, earlier this week… now we have a report in the Irish Times about the potential for school profiling, which she knows and the department knows are completely unacceptable to members of the opposition and many in the education sector.

“It’s completely unfair for an individual student who may be studying in a school of disadvantage or a school with limited subject choice.

“If you have a student who is off their own bat studying a higher level paper because a higher level teacher isn’t available in that school… how on earth is school profiling supposed to take that into account?”

The Labour TD said he's "sick, sore and tired" of waiting for a decision on this year's exams, adding: "And I'm not even doing the Leaving Cert".

He said a decision is now needed, as students have lost significant amounts of class time over the last two years and teacher absences due to COVID continue to disrupt learning.

He said it's "unfair" to expect this year's Leaving Cert class to go back to a traditional exam as a result.

'Profiling is unfair'

Ray Silke - a teacher at Coláiste Iognáid in Galway, and former Galway All Ireland winning captain - said the current situation is very unfair on students.

He said own Leaving Cert students keep asking what’s going to happen, but he and other teachers aren't able to give an answer.

He said: “I’d agree that profiling is unfair - it’s unfair particularly to an individual student who might be exceptional.

"Because they didn’t sit the junior cert - through absolutely no fault of their own - they would be disadvantaged.”

However, he also noted that predicted grading in the past two years saw “academic inflation go through the roof”.

He also noted: “It’s a very difficult situation to put teachers in.

"In my own case, I coached the boys for four or five years on the school team. Two of my friends had children in that class. It’s a very hard situation.”

Ray does believe there's a need to move to a new Leaving Cert system - one that includes continuous assessment.

In the meantime, however, he said it's important this year's written exams need to be modified to give students more choice around which questions to answer.

Main image: Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / and Leaving Cert grades on a phone screen (Photograph: Brian Lawless / PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

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