What a Fiasco!

I don’t often use the word fiasco. In fact, I’d say this is the first time I have ever written or typed it in my own personal writing. However, it is truly warranted in regards to the latest situation on the Leaving Certs results.

We all have links to someone who is doing the Senior State Exams every year. It may be a sibling, a child or a cousin, or it could be a more distant link and just be your neighbour down the road. A nation’s heart broke for the students who have been put through the ringer this year. From not knowing what was happening with exams to having college course points skyrocket, it has not been an easy six months for school-leavers. It hasn’t been an easy six months for anyone, but you know what I mean.

The students were dealt another haymaker this past Wednesday when it was revealed that their results might not even be correct. 6100 students will receive improved grades. Over 1000 college places might be needed to adjust for the error in the code of Canadian company Polymetrika, responsible for the calculated grading. On top of this, approximately 700 students received higher grades than they should have. These students will not have to give up their place in their college course, but will have to live with that on their conscience. Minister for Education Norma Foley acknowledged that some students had wrongly received places in courses they normally would not have if it was not for the coding errors. What a way to begin your college experience, eh? Feeling like a fraud. That shouldn’t happen until third or fourth year when you really have to work hard!

This is all without mentioning the fact that Minister Foley, along with Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris all knew about the errors prior to it being discovered in the Dáil and in the subsequent press conference held by Minister Foley. Opposition Leaders Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin, and Alan Kelly of Labour are equally shocked and appalled at the fiasco. There can be no cause for happiness at a rival showing signs of weakness when thousands of our children’s futures are at stake.

Norma Foley | Broadsheet.ie
Norma Foley (left) and Micheál Martin

As one commenter, Chronic Anxiety (not me, I swear!) pointed out on the Journal.ie article about the grades, “Some courses would have been subject to grade inflation due to some students getting higher marks due the addition of the CPSE mark. Some students were initially marked down and now have been awarded higher marks will still not get their courses due to this.” It is not fair on any student that went through this horrible situation, especially those who missed out on college places due to the errors. It is also an extremely tough decision to make for any student. Do you leave a course you’ve just started to try and catch up with your higher choice? Has too much time passed already? Should you defer for a year? More impossibly tough questions dumped on 18 year olds.

It seems funny how not too long before our own grades fiasco we laughed at the British government for running their own shitshow. As the saying goes, ‘don’t throw stones in glass houses,’ and if you’re a scalded pot don’t laugh at the blackened kettle.

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