Two Social Democrats TDs – Gary Gannon and Holly Cairns – have called on the Minister for Higher Education to clarify issues raised by CAO applicants who sat the Leaving Certificate in previous years but will not benefit from predicted grades inflation when results are released next week.

Gary Gannon TD, the party’s spokesperson on Education, said:

“We cannot lose sight of the fact that this year’s Leaving Certificate cohorts were severely impacted by school closures and ongoing uncertainty surrounding the State exams. It is only right and proper that they are awarded the grades set by their teachers under the predictive model.

“However, we must also recognise the impact of this year’s marking system on the thousands of students who are under the age of 23 and are applying to college using their Leaving Certificate points from previous years. These students should not be disadvantaged as they compete for college places with those who will be receiving their Leaving Cert results on Monday.

“Third level institutions reserve places for mature students and those applying through access routes such as HEAR and DARE. In the interest of fairness, the Minister should consider a similar model for students who sat their Leaving Certificate previously but, for whatever reason, are only applying to the CAO for the upcoming academic year.”

Holly Cairns TD, Social Democrats spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, said:

“The pandemic has highlighted the complexities and inequities in our education system. A continually shifting policy has left students and families uncertain and worried.

“In some cases, up to 30% third level admissions are from students who have not completed the Leaving Cert in that particular year.

“Both the Departments of Education and Further and Higher Education need to provide clearer guidance on how these students will be supported. We welcome confirmation that more college places will be made available to accommodate students at this demanding time, but it is also necessary that appropriate funding and supports are put in place to allow this to happen.”

September 3, 2020

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