Inspectorate research September-December 2020

Inspectorate research September-December 2020

Dear Partner,

First of all, I wish to acknowledge the enormous work undertaken by school leaders, teachers and school communities to reopen schools safely and the continuing commitment demonstrated by school communities since the start of the school year in ensuring that students have been able to resume learning in a safe environment. Without the commitment of school leaders, teachers, board members and parents, none of this would have been possible. I also want to thank partner organisations for the way in which you have collaborated closely with the Inspectorate and Department in this period.

As we outlined in a circular to schools last June, ( Circular Letter 0041/2020 ), the focus of the Inspectorate’s work during this term is on supporting and advising school communities in their work to resume teaching and learning safely. We have already engaged in online and face-to-face advisory visits in several hundred schools. Through this engagement, we have sought to support school leaders and their teams and the sessions have also deepened our understanding of the successes and challenges facing schools as they operate this term.

One of the other important tasks that we have been asked to do is to gather information from a range of stakeholders in schools about how schools are doing in the exceptional circumstances of this year. Primarily, the information from this research will be fed back to the staff of the Department so that the most appropriate range of supports can be offered to schools at this extraordinarily difficult time. The research will also help us to identify and disseminate effective practice in the interest of supporting schools during the year. The findings of the research will complement findings from other components of the Inspectorate’s engagement with schools during this term, including our work on advising and supporting the safe reopening of schools.

The research will include some surveys of principals, teachers, parents and students in a sample of primary, post-primary and special schools. Capturing the perspectives of the range of stakeholders will provide very valuable insights into how well things are going in the current school year and into the particular needs of each group of respondents in relation to wellbeing, teaching and learning and arrangements in relation to COVID-19. The surveys will be very brief and will only take a few minutes for each respondent to complete. The surveys are completely anonymous and findings will be reported in an aggregated way; individual schools will not be identified.

The first phase of the surveys will commence today, Monday 19th October; further phases may follow in November and December. The first survey phase will provide an opportunity for schools and national stakeholders to provide feedback on the question sets which will usefully inform any further surveys. The surveys will be administered online and links to the surveys will be forwarded to respondents via the school with the support of school management. Links to student surveys will be forwarded to parents via the school and parents will be asked where relevant to facilitate their child’s completion of the survey. A different sample of schools will be used in the case of each group of respondents. For example, the initial phase in the coming week will involve the administration of parent surveys, student surveys and teacher surveys in a separate sample each of 50 schools that includes primary, post-primary and special schools. The surveys of principals will be administered in separate samples of 50 primary and special schools and 50 postprimary schools. Participation by schools in the surveys will be voluntary and inspectors will be in contact by phone with principals in participating schools to discuss the surveys and make the necessary arrangements.

We greatly appreciate the co-operation of schools and all stakeholders with this work.


Yours sincerely,
Harold Hislop
Chief Inspector


(NAPD) National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals AGM


Chairman: Alan Mongey, President, NAPD.

• Adoption of Standing Orders
• Adoption of Minutes of AGM 2019
• Consideration of Director’s Report
• Consideration of Audited Accounts and Treasurer’s Report
• Ratification of membership fee proposed by the Executive Committee
• Election of Auditors
• Reception of 6 members from the Sectors to the Executive Committee
• Election of the President
• Election of the Vice-President
• Reception of the Regional Representatives
• Reports from Sectoral Meetings
• Report from NAPD-R
• Consideration of properly proposed motions
• Address by Alan Mongey, President, NAPD

Letter from the Department of Education and Skills – COVID 19


A reassuring letter from the DES for your information, please see link below to download.

Letter from DES


As you know, schools have been open for more than a month now, and the Department is aware some concerns have been expressed by members of the schools community in relation to the continued safe operation of schools during the pandemic. This anxiety may have become more acute in recent days as Ireland has moved into Level 3 of the Plan for Living with COVID-19.

Keeping schools safely open for children and staff is a key priority at all levels of the Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19. At levels 1-4 inclusive, schools can remain open with protective measures, and at level 5, recommendations will be based on the situation and evidence at the time. While I understand there may be concerns in relation to whether the current approaches recommended by the HPSC in July and updated in August remain fit for purpose as the disease progresses, let me assure you that the Department has been assured by the public health authorities that the current measures are proving to be highly effective at minimising transmission within the school setting. Indeed, they were designed to ensure a safe environment within the school setting regardless of what is happening in terms of transmission in the wider community. These measures and the relevant evidence both nationally and internationally are being kept under continued review by public health specialists.

As you are aware the plan prioritises very strongly the sustainable and safe operation of schools throughout the pandemic. In that respect, the Department is engaging closely with colleagues in the Department of Health and with public health doctors on a weekly basis, to get their perspective in relation to the safety of schools vis-a-vis the current trajectory of the COVID-19 disease.

In recent days, this issue has been afforded careful consideration by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). In recommending that schools remain open, the NPHET has considered the national experience of school reopening to date, including the epidemiological data and information gathered through case and outbreak management.

This perspective is very reassuring and I would like to share the key points with you. In summary, the Department of Health’s Office of the Chief Medical Officer has acknowledged that much work has been undertaken to facilitate the safe reopening of schools in Ireland,

including the production of sectoral guidance available via the ‘Back to School’ webpage on and that the exceptional efforts of school staff, children and parents/guardians in implementing this guidance has contributed to the safe and successful reopening of schools in Ireland. Confirmation has also been provided of the following.

The decision to recommend that schools remain open in the context of the ongoing COVID-19
pandemic and the current trajectory of the disease in Ireland is based on multiple factors
including the following:

o The Irish experience to date supports the current international position that
schools are low risk environments for COVID-19 and are not key drivers of
transmission in the community.

o Many cases of COVID-19 linked to schools in Ireland have been found to have
exposure to the disease outside of the school environment, e.g. in a household or
social setting.

o Similarly, where testing of close contacts (of confirmed cases linked to the school),
identifies additional cases of COVID-19, many of these are found to have had
exposure to the disease outside of the school.

o There have been relatively few instances where transmission of COVID-19 within a
school is strongly suspected by HSE Public Health.

o The importance of schools for the overall health and wellbeing of children cannot
be overstated and the risk of COVID-19 must be carefully weighed against the very
real harm that can be caused by sustained school closures.

o When children do develop COVID-19, the great majority experience no symptoms or very mild symptoms.

o International evidence, and the Irish experience to date, suggests that adults (e.g.
teachers/staff) are not at higher risk of COVID-19 in the school setting than in the
wider community or household.

In supporting these conclusions, the Department of Health has provided the Department with some up to date factual information. As already noted, the Irish experience to date is reassuring and supports the current international position that schools and childcare facilities do not appear to be key drivers of COVID-19 transmission in the community.

As of 6th October, a total 252 schools have had/are having some testing completed as a consequence of a Public Health Risk Assessment. From the 252 schools that had mass tests, with 5,890 students and staff having been tested, an additional 112 detected cases have been identified over and above original cases (a positive detection rate for COVID-19 of less than 2%).

The Department of Health also note that these additional cases did not necessarily develop COVID-19 as a result of contact with an index case in the school, and the additional cases detected via contact tracing are likely to include people who contracted COVID-19 as result of exposure in the wider community (e.g. household/social setting).

In other words, where children or staff members are contracting COVID-19 in the community (mostly in household and social settings), mass testing is only showing an additional 112 cases in total up until 6th October being detected in schools and many of these additional cases are likely not being transmitted in the school but are being picked up also from exposure in the wider community.

Finally, there was no significant change in the proportion of total weekly COVID-19 cases attributable to school-aged children (4-18 years) before (August, weeks 32-35 inclusive) and after (September, weeks 36-40 inclusive) reopening of schools (14.3% and 14.1% respectively), supporting the hypothesis that children are not at increased risk from COVID-19 in the school setting.

I hope that this provides your members as well as all staff, students and parents with clear information and reassurance. It is the view of public health teams that for the most part, schools are very successfully implementing the HPSC recommendations that have been provided for schools and that the measures recommended and funded through very significant additional funding from the Department are proving very effective in keeping transmission levels in the school setting so low.

Recommendations are being kept under review by public health specialists as we continue to deal with the ongoing pandemic.
Schools are proving to be safe spaces for children in Ireland and for the staff who are making every effort to implement public health advice. In doing so schools are continuing to provide high quality educational experiences as safely as possible and the Department would like to acknowledge the contribution of all concerned in the school community to this national effort.

The Department will continue to work closely with all of the education partners and the public health system so that schools can continue to be supported as much as possible in this very challenging time.

Yours sincerely


Deirdre Shanley
Rúnaí Cúnta/ Assistant Secretary



The Longford Leader Online – Principals: Crucial Department clarifies extent, consequences and corrective measures relating to Leaving Cert calculated grade errors

Wednesday 30th September 2020

Principals: Crucial Department clarifies extent, consequences and corrective measures relating to Leaving Cert calculated grade errors

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) has said it is crucial the Department of Education clarifies the exact extent, consequences and corrective measures relating to the significant errors unearthed in the Leaving Cert calculated grades.


The Connaught Telegraph Online – School principals seek clarification on Leaving Cert errors

Wednesday 30th September 2020

School principals seek clarification on Leaving Cert errors

School principals have commenting on the reports today that the Department of Education has uncovered significant errors with the Leaving Certificate Calculated Grades programme.

Read more…… Association of school principals demands clarity on ‘exact consequences’ of Leaving Cert errors

Wednesday, 30th September 2020

Association of school principals demands clarity on ‘exact consequences’ of Leaving Cert errors

The director of the National Association for Principals and Deputies (NAPD) has called for clarity regarding errors in the Leaving Cert calculated grading system.

Read more………….

Breaking – 6,500 students to receive amended Leaving Cert grades following calculation errors

Wednesday, 30th September 2020

6,500 students to receive amended Leaving Cert grades following calculation errors

Minister for Education Norma Foley has announced that students who received a lower Leaving Certificate grade due to two errors in the calculation system will receive a corrected grade via the calculated grades student portal.

Read More……..

Irish Examiner Online – School principals demand answers on botched Leaving Cert results

Irish Examiner Online – Wednesday 30th September 2020

School principals demand answers on botched Leaving Cert results

School principals have called on the Department of Education to clarify the exact extent and consequences of the errors uncovered in this year’s Leaving Cert calculated grades.


Irish Independent Online – Errors found in Leaving Cert calculated grades system

Irish Independent Online – Wednesday 30th September 2020

Errors found in Leaving Cert calculated grades system

ERRORS have been discovered with the Leaving Certificate calculated grades system with Minister for Education Norma Foley to make a significant announcement later on Wednesday, has learned.

Read More……… Coverage – Leaving Cert downgrade costs Dublin teenager a place in Medicine

RTE News Wednesday 30th September

Leaving Cert downgrade costs Dublin teenager a place in Medicine

Identical twins Aaron and Conor Daly from Rathcoole in Co Dublin had identical ambitions to study medicine.

They were both awarded the exact same calculated grades by their school, the maximum 625 points.

Read More……..