Demands for legislation to protect teachers from parental pressure on Leaving Cert assessments

Demands for legislation to protect teachers from parental pressure on Leaving Cert assessments
Yesterday in a historic announcement the Leaving Cert was cancelled.

Teachers should not come under pressure from parents about their child’s grades and legislation may be required to prevent them from doing so, a TD has said.

The government decided to cancel the Leaving Certificate exams which were due to begin on July 29.

Instead, students will now be offered the option of accepting grades calculated by their teachers or sitting the Leaving Certificate at a later date when the pandemic eases.

However, those that choose to sit the exam will not be eligible for college this coming September.

Fianna Fáil's Education spokesperson says legislation is needed to protect teachers from pressure from the parents of Leaving Cert students.

The exams have been cancelled and replaced with calculated grades, which will be estimated by teachers.

However, students will have the option of sitting a written exam at a later date.

Deputy Thomas Byrne says he is concerned that some parents have contacted teachers in the last few days to emphasise how hard their child has been working.

He says: "Legislation should really be there to protect teachers. I think there's absolutely no reason for teachers to do it and they shouldn't feel any obligation to take those phone calls.

"But clearly it is also the case that parents shouldn't make those phone calls and put any pressure. I think they need to trust the teachers that know their children."

Labour Party education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin called on Education Minister Joe McHugh to publish the health and legal advice concerning the cancellation of the Leaving Certificate.

Mr O Riordain said: “There are several legal issues outstanding with the government’s decision on the Leaving Certificate. Under our current laws, the minister is obliged to hold a state examination of secondary school students, it still is unclear if predicted/calculated grading will meet that requirement.

“Students need to be assured that their results of Leaving Cert 2020 will have exactly the same status as previous years.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

'This is totally new': Fianna Fáil says teachers unions should be given time on predicted grades decision

One of the country's largest teaching unions has backed the system of calculated grades for the Leaving Cert - but wants clarity on some issues.

The Teachers' Union of Ireland says they will work with the proposal and will meet with the Department of Education to make sure it is fair for each student.

The ASTI, meanwhile, will continue meeting today to discuss the plans.

Fianna Fail's education spokesperson Thomas Byrne says unions should be given time.

He says: "Unprecedented and would go against the grain for teachers to be correcting their own students' work in terms of their own ethics of how they do their job.

"This is totally new, we are in a pandemic. I know that teachers have already risen to the challenge of online learning when no national online learning platform has been provided by the state for schools."

Earlier: Teachers Union of Ireland seek clarification on predicted grades but will 'engage'

The Teachers Union of Ireland has decided to engage with the system of calculated grades, which will replace this year's Leaving Cert.

The written exams have been cancelled this summer and students will get a calculated grade instead, estimated by their teacher.

The TUI and ASTI met separately last night and the Association of Secondary Teachers says their meeting has been adjourned and will continue today.

Teachers Union of Ireland President, Seamus Lahart, says they will be seeking clarification on issues related to calculated grades.

He says: "We believe that the 61,000 students who would be ready to do the Leaving Cert this year need some means of progression.

"However, we have a lot of questions to ask and engage with the Department and the State Examinations Commission in the coming week.

"But we will work with this means of allowing the students to progress to future careers."

Meanwhile, Education Minister Joe McHugh admitted the State could be opening itself up to legal action from student’s and parents over the decision taken to predict their grades to avoid students having to sit down to do their exams.

Concerns have also been flagged, as grades decided on by a student’’s teachers and principal will not be re-checked under the appeals process, the Department of Education confirmed.

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