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Appeal for Leaving Cert grades review as pupils and parents consider legal action after failing to secure college places

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The Government is coming under increasing pressure to change the appeals process for Leaving Certificate grades as pupils and parents consider legal action after failing to secure enough points for preferred college choices.

Schools have already written to the Department of Education this weekend expressing concern on behalf of students they feel were unfairly treated by the standardisation process when grades were being calculated.

In particular, schools that have traditionally excelled in specific subjects have complained about their pupils being short-changed, as the standardisation process was applied nationally without taking a school's history into consideration.

The Institute of Education, a fee-paying school in Dublin, has called on the Department of Education to revise the grounds under which students can appeal their results.

From tomorrow students will be able to review the percentage grades issued by their school and the subsequent grade issued by the calculations office after the national standardisation process was applied. Students can appeal their marks, but only if there has been an obvious clerical error or issue.

Institute director Peter Kearns told the Sunday Independent this needs to change.

"The department is not allowing anyone to draw into question the statistical model they have put together.

"In a school where students get results that are in line with the national spread of results, this model works perfectly. But in a class or a subject where everyone is getting H1s or H2s, the model is failing. So in schools such as Gaelscoileanna or schools where they are particularly strong in another subject, the standardisation process has reduced those results to tie them in with the national norms.

"These students are deeply hurt and upset and the thing to do is fix it now and quickly. Don't let it go to the courts."

He said his own school was severely impacted in many subjects. "In French we went from getting four times the national average of H1s at 27pc, we were dragged down to 16pc." Officials at the Department of Education are said to be happy with how standardisation was applied in difficult and unprecedented circumstances.

The results have sparked a CAO points bonanza and fuelled inflation for most course choices, with 20pc of pupils securing more than 500 points.

However, more than 80pc of applicants for level eight courses secured one of their first three course preferences. A government source said this was a good result, and this weekend schools have been told the process for appeals will not change.

Teachers' Union of Ireland general secretary Michael Gillespie said the appeals process should remain the same.

"We signed up to a process because there was an emergency. Teachers stepped up to the mark and did the job, adapted and did it far more successfully than our nearest neighbours in the UK. At the end of the day, 83pc of them got it right because their grade wasn't affected or changed."

National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals director Clive Byrne said changing the appeals process now would unravel the system devised to cope with the unique circumstances brought about by the pandemic.

"Most of the students are happy and if somebody feels they are particularly hard done by they will have the option of resitting the exam."

Sunday Independent