Holly Cairns TD, Social Democrats spokesperson for Further and Higher Education, and Gary Gannon TD, the party’s Education spokesperson, have called for meaningful reform of the college entry system following this afternoon’s release of first round CAO offers.

Holly said:

“Today marks a critical milestone after a very difficult and uncertain period for this year’s cohort of Leaving Certificate students who faced unprecedented challenges in securing third level places due to the scrapping of the traditional exams in favour of calculated grades.

“Every adjustment made to the Leaving Cert and CAO process creates more complications. It is unfortunate that there is still no reassurance today for students applying to college using results from previous years.

“I would like to congratulate all the students who secured their preferred college courses today while being mindful of those who have been left disappointed by the outcome of the process.”

Deputy Gannon added:

“The calculated grades model was always going to throw up anomalies in terms of its impact on the CAO process. This year’s grade inflation will be of little comfort to students who lost out on their course choice due to the resultant rise in points.

“We will also need to assess the adverse effects of calculated results on the students who applied to the CAO this year using their points from previous years.

“I am hopeful that Minister Foley’s belated but welcome decision to exclude the historic performance of schools from the standardisation process will at least result in more students from disadvantaged backgrounds securing college places today.

“The Department of Education should now immediately engage with all the relevant stakeholders to provide clarity on the arrangements for current sixth year students who are due to sit their Leaving Certificate exams in 2021.”

September 11, 2020

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