Foley: Moves in place to avoid repeat of grades error

Foley: Moves in place to avoid repeat of grades error

Minister for Education Norma Foley said legislation should be concluded in the Dáil this evening specific to the accredited grades process, which will mean that the accredited grades for 2021 will be under the stewardship of the SEC.

The Minister of Education says new mechanisms have been put in place to ensure errors in accredited grades will not be repeated this year.

Norma Foley attended Pobalscoil Neásain, Baldoyle, Dublin on Wednesday to meet with staff and Leaving Certificate students, ahead of the beginning of exam season.

There have been concerns that a coding error, which saw some grades changed last year, could be repeated this year, as accredited grades are still being offered due to the ongoing pandemic.

"We certainly have learned a great deal from last year, and we've had a significant look back at all of the measures that would need to be implemented, and there was a new contractor in place this year," Norma Foley said.

"We're also this year putting in place an additional quality assurance mechanism, which I think is a positive measure in that it's a reassuring one for everybody involved."

Legislation

Legislation should be concluded in the Dáil this evening specific to the accredited grades process, which will mean that the accredited grades for 2021 will be under the stewardship of the SEC.

"All of those proactive measures that students can see and their families can see do lend considerable confidence to the system," Ms Foley added.

Students who choose to sit the exams will be heading back to exam halls soon, and Ms Foley urged students to be cautious ahead of their exams and not to take any risks that could potentially expose them to Covid-19.

"We're continuously engaged with public health and in terms of the mitigation measures that we need to operate in our halls and classrooms," she said.

"Even though there will be a greater number of leaving certificate centres this year, it won't have a huge additionality to individual schools, given that the junior cycle exams are not taking place.

"I think we're almost unique where we are actually offering the opportunity for students to have the accredited grades process, but also to have the written exams and I think it's a fair achievement and it's due in no small measure to the leadership within the school community."

On whether children would still be required to wear masks in 2022, Ms Foley said she wished she "had the crystal ball".

"I'm conscious that we are currently within the pandemic and everything that we've done in our schools to this point has been on the back of the advice that we've received from public health so we will be advised by public health as regards those measures.

"Whatever is required in our schools, from a public health point of view, we absolutely should be putting those in place for September."

Ms Foley added that public health has assured the government that there will be no issue around students testing or contact tracing being interrupted by the HSE hack.

"There is a considerable awareness around the importance of schools... and public health are very confident that they will be able to operate as required."

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