Legal challenges to results will rack up big bills, says barrister

Cases may end up in courts

Amy Molloy

A barrister specialising in data protection predicts the Department of Education will be footing substantial legal bills as a result of the calculated grades system.

John Temple BL expects the courts to see an influx in applications due to a "myriad of issues" stemming from this year's Leaving Cert.

More than 60,000 students received their results on Monday and, overall, they were the strongest on record.

But while many were happy, there is a cohort of students from private schools who are set to appeal their results, particularly focusing on the standardisation process that was applied.

"People are going to want to get access to their files to find out how the standardisation applied to their results," Mr Temple said.

"The main issue will be with the appeals process and where a student goes from here. The High Court is very daunting to most people, but in this case it's a student's life. The department will have to provide how they reached the grade and the data relied upon in reaching that grade.

"I've had some solicitors contacting me directly with enquiries and it seems to be more private students that have been impacted. They see themselves as victims of standardisation."


While these issues may only concern a minority, Mr Temple says it has the potential to "affect them greatly and cause an injustice".

"When you look at the private German school in Dublin where only a small number of students achieved a H1 in the language and many were downgraded, it is rather bizarre," he said.

"It is inevitable that legal challenges will land on the steps of the courts and the department will have to foot the bill."

Teachers and schools are indemnified from any legal cases resulting from the decision to introduce calculated grades this year.

The Department of Education has clarified that schools were not instructed to destroy official documents relating to the calculated grades process.

Schools are this week being asked to return the forms they used to document the evidence they based their estimated marks on.

This form will be necessary for the appeals process, although you cannot appeal the marks awarded by teachers.

The appeals process will only examine the accuracy of the data transfer of results from a school through the various stages of the process.

"All materials relied upon now form part of the student's personal data and therefore they should be able to access this," Mr Temple said.