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PAC to question awarding of Leaving Cert exams contract to Canada firm


‘Pushed her luck’: Education Minister Norma Foley.

‘Pushed her luck’: Education Minister Norma Foley. PHOTO: MAXWELLS

Stock picture

Stock picture


‘Pushed her luck’: Education Minister Norma Foley. PHOTO: MAXWELLS

The Dáil's spending watchdog is expected to call in senior Department of Education officials to answer questions over the contract awarded to Polymetrika, the Canadian company at the centre of the latest Leaving Cert calculated grades controversy.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Brian Stanley said the matter would be discussed at a PAC meeting next Wednesday and he would be encouraging members to support a hearing. He said the matter was of major public importance in terms of the procurement process, the spending of taxpayers' money and governance.

Polymetrika developed the software for the calculated grades standardisation process. Two coding errors that came to light this week could mean about 6,500 students will receive upgrades. The department did not go through the normal procurement process in awarding the contract because it said there wasn't enough time if the Leaving Cert results were to be delivered by early September. It says Polymetrika has "recognised expertise in what is a highly technical and specialised field".

PAC members Matt Carthy of Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil's Marc MacSharry have called for the department's secretary general Seán Ó Foghlú to appear before the committee.

Mr MacSharry said that questions had arisen "relevant to financial recourse to the State from mistakes made by this company and the costs and consequent outcomes from any litigation which may or may not arise as a result". There were "also financial implications should pupils and their families chose to litigate the matter".

Meanwhile, the Leaving Cert class of 2020 is awaiting clarity on how many students are affected and who will receive CAO offers as a result.

Education Minister Norma Foley was awaiting the outcome of a series of independent checks by a US company before releasing revised results.

Students will know the outcome in the coming days. A helpline is running today and tomorrow on 01 8892199, while the National Parents' Council Post Primary Leaving Cert helpline will reopen from Monday.

The Union of Students in Ireland and the Irish Second Level Students' Union are seeking a meeting with Ms Foley and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris, warning that if the current situation "is not handled correctly, this could result in serious fallout that goes far beyond grades and offers."

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