21 May, 2020 – Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD announces publication of guidance for schools on Calculated Grades

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD has today (21 May 2020) announced the publication of detailed guidance on the new system of Calculated Grades for this year’s Leaving Certificate.

The document is being sent to all post-primary schools today, to provide teachers and principals with information on the process of estimating marks for students to receive Calculated Grades.

The guide has been produced in consultation with education partners following the decision to postpone Leaving Certificate 2020 examinations, taken as a protective measure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister McHugh said: “The guide is the result of intensive work and engagement by the Department, teachers and school management in recent days.

“It is designed to give teachers and principals clear and precise guidance on how to provide the Department with an estimated mark and a class ranking for each Leaving Certificate student.

“At all times we have put fairness and the interests of the students at the heart of our decision making. The guidance is very clear and strict on the issue of canvassing of teachers and principals. Canvassing would be unfair to students and to staff in a school, and it will not be tolerated in any circumstances.

“I’d like to thank all of the members of the advisory group of stakeholders who have worked so hard on the whole question of the 2020 state examinations process and have contributed to the development of this guidance.”

The document Guide for Schools on Providing Estimated Percentage Marks and Class Rank Orderings is available at https://assets.gov.ie/74606/745492ee42f64db9aedcd1863f0cd368.pdf

As part of the process of Calculated Grades, Leaving Certificate students will have access to an online portal from early next week where they will be required to confirm the subject level  at which they initially entered for the examinations or to change to a lower level.

The guide provides detailed information on how the Calculated Grades process should be operated in schools.

Among the information outlined in the guidance document is –

:: Advice on the range of information that teachers should use to inform the school’s judgements about estimated marks.

:: Guidance on how teachers can work together to ensure alignment of marks across students and classes in schools.

:: Details about how principals will oversee the process within schools.

:: Rules around canvassing setting out how schools will be required to report instances to the Department.

:: External candidates – the Department will look at these students on a case by case basis and will be flexible. Every effort will be made to provide an estimated mark where there is sufficient credible evidence of the student’s achievement.

:: Indemnity – as teachers and school leaders will be implementing the Calculated Grades process in schools on behalf of the Minister, arrangements have been put in place to extend a State indemnity to them and to the boards of management of their schools.

Further supports and information for students, teachers and principals in relation to the implementation of the Calculated Grades model are being provided.

The system of Calculated Grades is being offered to all 2020 Leaving Certificate candidates. Students will have the opportunity to appeal their results.

Students can also opt to sit the Leaving Certificate exams when they are held, which will be when public health advice permits.

The timing of the results of the Calculated Grades process will run as close as possible to the usual results system.



Notes to Editors 

On 8 May the Minister announced that a system of Calculated Grades will be offered to Leaving Certificate students in 2020. Further information on this process can be found in the document Guide to Calculated Grades, available at gov.ie/leavingcertificate

The document published today, Guide for Schools on Providing Estimated Percentage Marks and Class Rank Orderings, can be accessed at


Updated FAQs are also being made available here.

Under the system outlined in the guidance document, teachers will use their professional judgement, taking into account a range of evidence from a student’s past performance, to estimate the percentage mark a student would most likely have received had they sat the Leaving Certificate examination under normal conditions.

The estimated percentage marks and rankings will undergo an in school alignment process, involving colleague teachers of the same subject, to ensure that the standard being applied is consistent and appropriate for the subject. The principal will oversee the process and will also oversee the submission of the school’s estimated marks and class rankings.

The school’s estimated marks and class ranking will undergo a process of national standardisation. This will provide each student with a Calculated Grade. This process is outlined in the Department’s recent document: Guide to Calculated Grades. 

The Calculated Grades system will be overseen by an Executive Office in the Department of Education and Skills, established by the Minister for that purpose.

Department of Education and Skills’ statement on stakeholder engagement in relation to the State Examinations

13 May 2020 – Department of Education and Skills’ statement on stakeholder engagement in relation to the State Examinations


The Department of Education and Skills today (Wednesday 13 May 2020) hosted a seventh meeting with a range of stakeholders as part of planning in relation to the State Examinations during the Covid-19 response. The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe Mc Hugh TD, attended today’s meeting.


The advisory group of stakeholders includes representatives of students, parents, teachers, school leadership and management bodies, the State Examinations Commission, the National Educational Psychological Service, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the Department.


The Higher Education Authority attends meetings in an observer capacity, to assist feeding back to consultations it is involved with across the third level sector.


The Minister took the opportunity to thank members of the Advisory Group for the detailed work that they had undertaken regarding the examinations and Calculated Grades.


The advisory group discussed the recent decision to postpone the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations and for all students to be offered the option of Calculated Grades or sitting Leaving Certificate written examinations at a later date.


The advisory group was provided with an update on the development of detailed guidance for schools and teachers regarding calculated grades.


Today’s meeting also considered areas on which it would be useful to provide further information for students and parents on calculated grades and how best this information might be communicated.


The group also received updates on the measures that have been put in place to support the wellbeing of students at this time.


The Minister said: “I’d like thank the members of the advisory group for their ongoing work. They have shown leadership and commitment to finding a solution. It has been important to bring clarity to our Leaving Certificate students. The system of Calculated Grades gives us the fairest way possible of helping them to progress to the next stage in their lives.


“We are continuing to work on the development of the detailed guidance that schools will need to formulate and submit data for Calculated Grades.


“The Advisory Group has provided invaluable information about the views of all those involved – students, parents, teachers, school managers and others. The time afforded to the members has been an integral and vital part of the process in recent weeks.”


The group agreed to meet again next week to continue its discussions.





RTE This Week’s Interview with Clive Byrne

RTE Radio 1 – This Week

A look at events making the news in the past week presented by Carole Coleman and Justin McCarthy.

Interview with Clive Byrne, Director, NAPD

New Frequently Asked Questions on Calculated Grades

Please note additional Frequently Asked Questions have been posted on the the gov.ie website about calculated grades:



NAPD response to cancellation of Leaving Certificate examinations – 08 May, 2020

NAPD response to cancellation of Leaving Certificate examinations – 08 May, 2020

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) has responded to news of the Department of Education’s decision to cancel this year’s Leaving Certificate Examinations, with all students set to receive ‘calculated grades’.

According to Clive Byrne, Director of the NAPD:

“We recognise that the last few weeks have been a time of great stress and uncertainty for Leaving Certificate students and their families.

“The Minister for Education’s decision to cancel the Leaving Certificate and replace it with calculated grades is to be welcomed.

“We recognise that there is no perfect solution to the challenges we currently face. Therefore, whilst we appreciate that this alternative arrangement announced today is far from ideal situation and not without its challenges, we hope it will provide much needed clarity for our students. 

“We still have a journey to go on in finalising the detail around this new approach, however as school leaders, we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that the Class of 2020 can move on to the world of work, Further Education or Higher Education next autumn.

“Finally, we would like to thank our partners across the education sector for their engagement to date and we look forward to continuing to work with them on the remaining details in the days ahead.”


Supporting Documents following Ministers Announcement

A series of documents are being published to support this announcement, please see attached:

  • A Guide to Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate Students May 2020
  • Challenges of Organising Examinations with Social Distancing Requirement
  • Wellbeing of Leaving Certificate Students: Factors for Consideration NEPS May 2020

A Guide to Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate Students 2020

Challenges of Organising Examinations with Social Distancing Requirement…

Wellbeing of Leaving Certificate Students – Factors for Consideration NE…

Minister announces postponement of 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations

Statement 08 May, 2020


Minister announces postponement of 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations


All students to be offered the option of accepting Calculated Grades or sitting Leaving Certificate written examinations at a later date


The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. has today (Friday 8 May 2020) announced the postponement of the 2020 Leaving Certificate.


Following a decision at Cabinet, all students are to be offered the option of receiving Calculated Grades for the subjects they are studying and the alternative of sitting the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations at a date in the future when it is considered safe to hold the examinations.


The decision has been taken following an assessment of public health advice and other information and the implications for holding the exams from the previously rescheduled date of Wednesday 29 July 2020.


Minister McHugh said: “I have made every effort to run the 2020 Leaving Certificate as close as possible to the way the examinations were originally intended to be held.


“My desire had been to allow students to undertake the written and practical examinations in July and August but I have compelling evidence, based on medical advice and other assessments, that the Leaving Certificate examinations cannot be held in a reliable and valid manner, nor in a way that would be equitable for students.”


Minister McHugh said: “The reality of the impact of Covid-19 has led to a decision that has never happened in our country before. I fully appreciate the magnitude of this issue, for the students and their families, for the teachers and for school principals.


“This decision is taken with the best interests of students at heart. I have a responsibility to find a fair way to address the disadvantage that some students are facing and the impact a lack of time in school has had in recent weeks.


“The system being put in place will allow a young person to progress to the next stage of their life in a timely fashion.


“The fairest and most equitable way to do that in the current circumstances is to offer students the option of Calculated Grades for the 2020 Leaving Certificate but also to guarantee them the right to sit the examinations at a later stage when it is safe to hold them in the normal way.


“The decision has to be taken now to remove the anxiety that many students have been experiencing over how the exams would look later in the summer.”


Minister McHugh thanked the advisory group of stakeholders for their input in recent weeks in relation to the holding of the examinations.


The following is a breakdown of the process to be applied for students to be given the option of Calculated Grades or to sit the examinations.


  1. The 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations, previously scheduled to take place in late July and August, have been postponed.
  2. There will be no Leaving Certificate fee this year. All exam fees which have been paid will be refunded.
  3. Teachers will be asked to provide a professional judgment of each student’s attainment which will be subjected to a rigorous in-school alignment process to ensure fairness.
  4. The school principal will approve the estimated scores being provided and the rankings of each student in each subject in the school.
  5. A special unit is being established within the Department of Education and Skills to process the data provided by each school and operate national standardisation, again to ensure fairness amongst all students.
  6. The Department will finalise the grades for each student which will be issued to each student as close as possible to the traditional date. Formal State certification will also be provided.
  7. Students will retain the right to appeal. This will involve checks on school-entered data; correct transfer of that data to the Department; a review that it was correctly received and processed by the Department; and a verification of the Department’s processes by independent appeal scrutineers.
  8. Students will also retain the right to the sit the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations at a date in the future when it is deemed safe for state examinations to be held.



 Information for Leaving Cert Students, here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2f07eb-leaving-cert-2020-information/

Notes for Editors


There are two main phases in the process of arriving at a calculated grade: School-based and national standardisation.


Both phases are underpinned by the principles of teacher professionalism, support for students, objectivity, fairness and equity, collaboration and timeliness.


In addition, and in the spirit of fairness to all Leaving Certificate students, the option of sitting the Leaving Certificate examinations when it becomes feasible to hold them remains open to all students.


The process of arriving at a Calculated Grade applies to:

  • Established Leaving Certificate – subjects
  • Leaving Certificate Applied – subjects, tasks and vocational specialisms
  • Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme – Link Modules.


Other materials being published include