Minister's plan to release class rankings 'a breach of trust', says teachers' union

Minister's plan to release class rankings 'a breach of trust', says teachers' union

Education Minister Norma Foley. Picture: Julien Behal

Leaving Certificate students have a legal right to access to their class ranking, education minister Norma Foley has said.

Ms Foley said the calculated grade process was “an agreed process", but that students were entitled to challenge the results.

“As part of that agreed process, it was accepted by all that students would receive three pieces of information," she said. "That would be the percentage mark provided by the schools, the rank order, and the calculated grades."

It was entirely up to the student if they wanted to access the information, but they could access only their own rank order, she pointed out.

“If they want the information, it should be made available via the portal," she told RTÉ Radio. 

"And if they don't want the information, they don't have to access the portal, it is entirely up to the students, and many students will want the information and others will not. 

But there is a clear understanding on everyone's part that this is information that belongs to the students and the students should have it.

 “Each student will only have access to their own rank order. 

"And again, I want to say to you for us not to make that information available would mean we were not being faithful to the agreed process. They will not see any other student's information.” 

"Deeply disappointing"

Ms Foley said she knew the entire calculated grades process had been difficult for everyone, and that many teachers had participated in the system despite their objections so that students could have a Leaving Cert result.

There was a legal requirement that the students have access to the information, she said.

It comes as the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) described what they say is a breach of trust on calculated grades rankings as “deeply disappointing”. 

According to the TUI, teachers engaged in the calculated grades process on “a good faith, once-off basis” with the assurance that the student ranking provided by a school would only be available to a student in response to a data access request.

“Ranking students in such a manner runs completely counter to the values of inclusive teaching, and was only agreed upon on the understanding that it was to improve the accuracy of the data collected and would not be released in the manner now planned,” a spokesperson stated.

“The departure from this agreed position is a fundamental breach of trust by the department, and is profoundly damaging to the student/teacher relationship.” 

 The union believes that the release of class rankings in this way has the potential to be extremely damaging for more vulnerable students and that the move shows “absolutely no useful practical or moral purpose”.

 “The proposed manner of release could result in the personal data of many students being inferred or deduced and circulated without their knowledge. This flagrant breach of trust by the department is deeply disappointing and shows scant regard for vulnerable students. It will also make future trust-based collaboration extremely difficult.”

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