An official protocol to document when a student, or their parents, attempt to lobby teachers to improve their calculated Leaving Cert grades must be put in place to protect schools.
That is according to Clive Byrne, the director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD).
Lobbying or canvassing a teacher or principal in an attempt to influence a student’s grades or class ranking under this year’s Leaving Cert grading system would be completely inappropriate, he said.
“I think that the necessary safeguards would need to be put in place for the teacher and for the school.”
“I think that part of that protocol should be a written note that if somebody is contacted by a student or parent to ask for or canvass for a certain grade, or other things like that, that a written record should be kept.”
This record would then be taken into consideration by teachers and principals, and the Department of Education should also be informed, Mr Byrne told RTÉ.
Schools and sixth year students have no further need to speak about classwork or tuition, although they can get in contact on pastoral grounds, he added.
Mr Bryne made his comments following the momentous announcement that this year’’s Leaving Cert exams are to be scrapped and replaced with what the Department of Education describes as ’’calculated grades’’.
This year, in lieu of a written exam, students can opt for calculated grades, which are to be decided on by their schools and then standardised by the Department of Education.
The process takes into account a student’s previous results and school work, as well as a class ranking as assigned by a teacher. These results will then be further scrutinised within a school before they are sent to the Department of Education.
Students who wish to wait to sit a written exam can wait to do so. Students who are unhappy with their calculated grades can also sit this exam. However, students who sit this exam will not be able to sit it in time to gain a college place this year.
Speaking on RTÉ’s ’’The News at One’’, Mr Byrne also cast doubts over whether or not schools will be able to carry out the necessary admin to get their calculated grades submitted before the deadline set by the Department of Education.
The department has asked schools to have their grades processed and submitted as near to the the end of May as possible. However, teachers aren’’t allowed to return to schools until May 18.
"We will do our very, very best to meet the deadlines, but it’s extremely tight," he said.
"There may be some flexibility within that but it is very, very tight because the process which needs to take place is that each individual teacher will come up with a grade and a ranking. The class ranking will be really, really important."
"Then the teacher will need to discuss with their colleagues in the subject department area. Then a report would need to be given to the principal to be signed off."
When principals are happy with the process, then data will be sent to the Department of Education. Education Minister Joe McHugh said he would like students to get their results as close as possible to the usual date.