Note to Members

This morning at a meeting of the NAPD regional chairpersons, representatives, and secretaries high levels of anger and frustration were expressed in relation the DES announcement yesterday. Principals and Deputy Principals are the greatest advocates for the academic and wellbeing needs of all students including the Leaving Certificate, LCA, and SEN students.

NAPD has asked the Department to allow online teaching for all students next week to give time to logistically prepare to accommodate Leaving Certificate, LCA, and SEN students returning to school as announced by the DES and await further information from NPHET on the safe return to schools.

The expectation that the school can be ready to safely accommodate this request by next Monday is unrealistic. Careful planning is required to adjust timetables to cater efficiently and safely for returning students and teachers. It must also be borne in mind that there are almost no substitute teachers available to cover for teachers who are COVID positive or are identified as close contacts. Throughout this pandemic, the Principals and Deputy Principals have kept schools open safely.

Given the unprecedented levels of COVID in many communities members expressed serious concerns that they cannot guarantee the health and safety of staff and students in their schools. Principals’ and Deputy Principals’ paramount concern is to provide a safe environment for the entire school community.

NAPD believes that online learning for all students should take place next week and that further discussions should take place with the education partners and the Department.


Clive Byrne
Director

Commenting on measures announced by Government, Clive Byrne, Director, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD)

Commenting on measures announced by Government, Clive Byrne, Director, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), said:

“While it will bring challenges which require careful consideration, school leaders note the decision by Government to allow Leaving Certificate students to attend school three days a week and to continue traditional classroom education for students with special needs.

“Throughout the pandemic, school leaders have expressed a view that the best learning environment for our students is that of the traditional classroom.

“The primary goal of all school leaders has been and remains the provision of the highest standard of education for all our students while protecting the health and wellbeing of all in the school community. The logistics of maintaining online and on-site learning in this way will be complex but with the support and understanding of the Department of Education, they can be achieved.

“Limitations remain, in particular inadequate broadband connectivity in many schools. Childcare concerns for many school staff and a lack of availability of substitute teachers for staff who have Covid-19 or are isolating as close contacts are also critical considerations.

“We are extremely mindful of the disruption experienced by all of our students. This year’s Leaving Cert students have already been impacted by the Spring 2020 lockdown and this is now added to further at a critical time in the academic year. We will continue to do everything possible to minimise the impacts of these measures.

“In addition to the current challenges, we cannot lose sight of the need to future plan. We remain hopeful that the traditional Leaving Certificate examinations can take place this summer. There remains sufficient lead-in time, coupled with the learnings of last year.

“The NAPD is anxious to meet the education partners and explore solutions with the Department and the State Examinations Commission which will meet the expressed concerns of students and staff to enable a mix of face to face teaching and online learning.”

ENDS

For media queries, contact 360:

 

Barry Murphy / barry@weare360.ie / 087 266 98978

Macdara Ó’Móráin / macdara@weare360.ie / 086 087 3387

Statement from the Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and the Department of Education and Skills regarding Leaving Certificate 2020 Calculated Grades Process

The Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has updated Leaving Certificate 2020 students on matters relating to the corrected, higher Calculated Grades which are to issue to some students.

The Department of Education and Skills will re-open the student Calculated Grades portal at 6pm today, Saturday 3 October, and all students who are due to receive corrected, higher grades, will be able to access their results.

When the portal is reopening students will receive a text message to say whether their grade is changing to a higher grade or not.

The Department will e-mail students whose grades have been corrected.

Students who receive improved marks will also be able to see these new marks in the portal.

  • 5,408 students will receive a higher grade, by one grade band, in one subject.
  • 621 students will receive a higher grade, by one grade band, in two subjects.
  • 71 students will receive a higher grade, by one grade band, in three or more subjects.

6,870 grades in total will increase affecting 6,100 students.

614 schools and other centres recognised to hold the Leaving Certificate will have one or more upgraded results.  This is out of a total of 741 schools and centres

It is important to note that no student will receive a lower grade as a result of this process.

Following the finding of errors in the code used by the Calculated Grades national standardisation process, the Minister for Education commissioned Education Testing Services (ETS) to provide an independent expert opinion on the coding.  The ETS statement is now published here:

ETS raised two issues in their statement.

The first is an error which occurred in the use of data, where a student did not sit all three core subjects at Junior Cycle.

In those cases, the system was meant to use the average national Junior Cycle score, in the missing subject, of the group of students who took their Leaving Certificate in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Instead, it chose that student’s next best subject for inclusion in the group computation.

The second issue raised by ETS is how the algorithm treated students’ marks at the extreme ends of the scale.  ETS noted that the treatment does not exactly match what is described in the national standardisation group’s report, and confirmed that this does not have any meaningful impact on results.

This issue relates to those students whose marks are 99 per cent and above, and those whose marks are one per cent and below. The ETS statement says that a student could not have received a lower grade as a result of this issue.

Speaking directly to students, Minister Foley said:

“Last week I expressed my regret to students for what had happened. I want to reiterate that today.

“You have had an exceptionally difficult year. I’m sorry for that. And I’m sorry this last week delivered more uncertainty to you.

“When we found errors in the code, I decided to seek independent expert oversight in the interest of certainty, particularly for students.

“I am glad that we can now provide students whose grades were lower than they should have been with their corrected results today and that this period of uncertainty is now over for all students.

“I wish you all every success in your choices and your journeys.”

The full set of student data has been re-run in the corrected model.

The Department’s Calculated Grades Executive Office and the Educational Research Centre have each run data checks independently of each other. The results that will now be published on the calculated grades student portal are the correct results under the model.

A corrected file of results has been provided to the CAO earlier this afternoon.

The CAO will now establish how many students are eligible to receive a new CAO offer.

The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science will work with the CAO and the higher education institutions to see how these students can be facilitated to commence the course that they would, in other circumstances, have been offered in an earlier round.

Any student who has applied to a higher education institution outside the State who believes their grade change will impact those arrangements should contact the relevant higher education institution in the first instance.

The Department’s helpline on 01 8892199 and will be open today until 7pm and tomorrow from 11am-4 pm. The email address is LC2020@education.gov.ie .

The National Parents Council Helpline will re-open on Monday at 11 am. Full details of these arrangements are on gov.ie/leavingcertificate,

ENDS

Notes to editors

A decision was taken on 10 April to postpone the Leaving Certificate Examinations until July, which was followed by a further announcement on 8 May to move to Calculated Grades.

Online registration for Calculated Grades opened on 26 May.

The Leaving Certificate results were issued on 7 September.

On 30 September, Minister for Education Norma Foley announced that two errors had been found in the coding used in the Calculated Grades process.

The model was designed to take the Junior Cycle results of a group of students and use that group’s results to inform the calculation of their Leaving Certificate Results. It bears re-stating; the system did not take the results of a single student’s Junior Cycle exams and apply it to that specific student’s Leaving Certificate. Rather, the system looked at performance at an aggregate class level in the Junior Cycle examinations, and applied that in calculating students’ Leaving Certificate Results.

The model was intended to use the students’ scores in Irish, English, Maths and their two strongest subjects. As you know, the error we discovered meant that the coding drew in the students’ two weakest subjects rather than two strongest scores.

A second error concerned the inclusion of Civil Social and Political Education (CSPE), when it should have been disregarded by the system.

Following this, the Minister commissioned Education Testing Services (ETS) to provide an independent expert opinion on the coding. This statement has now been published and students are being issued with their corrected grades via the calculated grades student portal at gov.ie/LeavingCertificate.

It was announced on 26 August that the postponed examinations will commence on 16 November. Registration for these examinations is open until Wednesday 7 October.

NAPD Commenting on the reports today that the Department of Education has uncovered significant errors with the Leaving Certificate, Calculated Grades programme

Commenting on the reports today that the Department of Education has uncovered significant errors with the Leaving Certificate, Calculated Grades programme, Clive Byrne, Director, NAPD said:

“The NAPD awaits further information on the detail of the errors uncovered by the Department of Education in the Leaving Certificate Calculated Grades programme.

“This system was implemented due to the unprecedented circumstances brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and was rolled out with the upmost co-operation and understanding by all stakeholders, not least so, the Leaving Cert class of 2020.

“While this was the first-time school principals and teachers have undertaken such an endeavour, every detail of the Department of Education’s instructions were carefully and comprehensively implemented in calculating the grade of each student.

“For these reasons, it is crucial that the Department now clarifies the exact extent, consequences and corrective measures relating to the errors uncovered.

“The Leaving Cert class of 2020 participated in the calculated grades system with the upmost maturity and understanding. It is now vital that those students impacted by these errors are communicated with immediately and efficiently to alleviate concern where possible.

“In addition, there is a need now to extend the deadline for students to register to sit a traditional Leaving Cert exam paper this November. The deadline of this Friday, 2 October 2020, is no longer realistic as students, upon receiving clarification on these errors, will need more time to consider their options.

“The NAPD encourages all students and their parents to follow Department of Education guidance in full, once it is provided. As always, each student’s school principals, teachers and career guidance counsellors will remain available for support where needed.”

ENDS

Roll Out of CAO Offers

Commenting on the roll out of CAO offers for Leaving Cert students this afternoon, Clive Byrne, Director, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals said:

 

“On behalf of all school leaders and the NAPD, I would like to congratulate all those Leaving Cert students who have received CAO first round offers this afternoon.

 

“In an unprecedented year, our Leaving Cert class of 2020 has shown great reserve and determination in getting to this point.  Today represents an important milestone in the transition from secondary to third level education and beyond.

 

“While many students will be excited with today’s their first round offers, it is important to note that others may be disappointed to not receive their first choice college course.  For those who find themselves in this position, thankfully there are a multitude of routes into further education and I encourage all students and their parents to research and consider these options.  Critically, your education and career prospects will not be defined by this outcome.

 

“This year, as a written exam was not completed in June, students can also avail of the option of sitting an exam paper in their subject of choice in November. Between now and then, all Leaving Cert students remain firmly part of their school community, and school leaders, teachers and staff are ready to support these students in any way they can.

 

“For any student in need of advice over the coming days, please contact the Department of Education helpline on: 1800 265 165.”

 

ENDS

Principals congratulate Leaving Cert students on results and begin focus on class of 2021

  • Comment from Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD): “Our Leaving Cert students receiving results this morning have shown great resilience and reserve over the past several months. Today marks a special moment in their young lives.”

The director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), Clive Byrne, has offered his congratulations to Leaving Certificate students receiving their exam results today, while also highlighting the challenges ahead for the Leaving Certificate class of 2021.

Mr Byrne said: “On behalf of Irish principals, deputy principals, and the NAPD, I would like to congratulate all those students receiving their Leaving Certificate results today.  Today’s results represent the culmination of two years of hard work and dedication from our students. Their achievements should be celebrated, and the support of their families recognised.

“The Leaving Cert class of 2020 has had to forgo many of the school traditions that all preceding sixth years have experienced and remember fondly, such as their last days at school, school graduations, and even their Debs, all in respect of public health guidance.

“In response to the pandemic, the Leaving Certificate ‘calculated grades’ programme was developed and implemented by the Department of Education in consultation with a wide range of education stakeholders. As part of this process, every effort has been made to ensure no student has been disadvantaged in receiving their results today.

“For those students who have been fortunate enough to match or exceed their expectations, today is a happy and very affirming conclusion to their second-level schooling and a launchpad to third-level education or other career opportunities.

“For other students who may be feeling disappointed, I would encourage them to remain positive.  Thankfully, there are more pathways than ever before into third-level education and their chosen careers beyond that.  Additionally, today’s employers are becoming increasingly open to sourcing talent from non-traditional disciplines and do so with a greater appreciation for the diverse experience and skillsets this brings.”

Leaving Certificate Class of 2021

“In the weeks following the excitement and emotions of today’s exam results, school leaders and all education stakeholders must now focus on the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on our Leaving Cert class of 2021. Our incoming sixth years, who have returned to classroom education in recent days, have had and will have equal if not greater challenges than this year’s school leavers.

“March’s school closures came at a time when many fifth-year students were getting to grips with crucial course material that, in a normal year, they would move to revise and refine in sixth year. While every effort was made by teachers to continue this coursework through a blended online learning approach, many students, particularly those in disadvantaged areas, did not experience the same level of learning.

“All school stakeholders must now begin to focus on what can be done to ensure no one in the Leaving Cert class of 2021 is disadvantaged. In considering this approach, learnings can be taken from the process implemented to support those who received results today.

“The NAPD has long advocated for Leaving Certificate reform, and it with this in mind that we ask the Minister for Education to continue dialogue and consultation on how Ireland might develop a more adaptive, sustainable, and modern senior cycle programme in the period ahead. As we adapt to living with Covid-19, the work of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment on this matter is now more important than ever.”

ENDS

NAPD sets the scene for school reopening as Covid Committee hears from Ireland’s secondary school leaders

NAPD sets the scene for school reopening as Covid Committee hears from Ireland’s secondary school leaders

A full return to school in late August-September described by school leaders as “best outcome”, provided it is safe to do so for all students and staff.

  • The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) to present to Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response on key challenges set for schools and school leaders as return to traditional post-primary education planned
  • Minister for Education Norma Foley and all education stakeholders must take key learnings from recent months to modernise post primary education
  • Leaving Certificate reform and digital learning access for all students must now be progressed
  • Extra school resources essential as challenges of dated infrastructure, social distancing, immunocompromised students and staff, and blended learning to be heard by committee members.

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) is set to present to the Oireachtas Special Committee on Ireland’s Covid-19 response, today, Tuesday, 7 July 2020.

Alan Mongey, NAPD President and Principal of Coláiste Bhaile Chláir in Claregalway and Paul Byrne, NAPD Deputy Director will outline the challenges facing post-primary education as schools plan to reopen in late August–September.

The NAPD and school leaders from the over 700 post-primary schools it represents have been at the forefront of ensuring continued student learning and the implementation of the Leaving Cert ‘calculated grades’ programme, necessary due to Ireland’s Covid-19 restrictions.

This in-depth insight into the challenges brought about by Covid-19 has led to a clear understanding among post-primary school leaders that “a one-size-fits-all solution to school reopening will not work”.

What’s needed?

While the reopening of schools will create huge responsibility for all involved, centralised Department of Education support, guidance, and procurement is essential to reduce the burden that will be placed on school leaders.

As it stands, it will be principals and deputy principals who are primarily tasked with leading and managing any return to traditional education. This workload will add to that of an already over-stretched cohort who were already calling for increased resources and support pre-Covid-19.

Each school requires:

  • The appointment of a Covid-19 assistant to implement and monitor full public health guidelines.
  • Financial investment to allow the purchase of increased cleaning and social distancing infrastructure.

Learnings from Covid-19

While Covid-19 has brought about unprecedented challenges for post primary education, it can now provide us with an opportunity to reflect and allow what the NAPD describes as “key learnings to be made on reforming an education sector” that in recent times has proven to be “unfit for adaption”.

The Association is set to call on education stakeholders to use Covid-19 as a precedent for rolling out blended learning, Leaving Cert reform and school digitalisation, all progressions it describes as having previously been “unworkable” and which now are completely necessary.

Speaking ahead of the NAPD’s presentation to the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response, Alan Mongey, NAPD President, said:

“The NAPD welcomes the opportunity to present to the Oireachtas Committee today as the body representing school leaders from over 700 post-primary schools across Ireland.

“School leaders are committed to working in partnership with all education stakeholders to prepare for the safe reopening of schools in late August and September in order to provide the best education for all students. There is no doubt that a return to traditional education as soon as possible is the best outcome for all concerned.

“Increased investment in education is essential. The choice for government is an important one: a failure to adequately invest in the short term will lead to a further loss in learning opportunities for those students whose school year and learning has been interrupted. The rollout of proper resourcing now can prevent further learning loss and ensure no student is disadvantaged.

“Likewise, a failure to take and implement learnings from Covid-19 to reform post-primary education will be a missed opportunity and will leave us ill-equipped to face a similar future pandemic scenario.”

 

ENDS

 

For media queries:

Paddy O’Dea paddy@weare360.ie │ 086 357 3365

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NAPD welcomes the appointment of new Minister for Education, Norma Foley, but describes challenges now facing post-primary education as the ‘most pressing in the State’s history’

NAPD welcomes the appointment of new Minister for Education, Norma Foley, but describes challenges now facing post-primary education as the ‘most pressing in the State’s history’

  • NAPD has called on the new Minister to adequately resource secondary schools to enable their reopening in September and use the lessons learned from Covid-19 to advance Senior Cycle reforms;
  • School leaders also call for increased supports to address the principal recruitment and retention crisis, a growing issue in the sector;
  • Social distancing, immunocompromised teachers and students, student access to broadband and digital devices and school transport among key issues post Covid-19;
  • Clive Byrne, Director NAPD: “Never has there been a more pressing time for addressing the immediate and long-term challenges of the post primary sector and we look forward to engaging with the Minister and her officials on these issues in the weeks and months ahead.”

 

The National Association of Principals & Deputy Principals (NAPD) has today, Saturday, 27 June 2020, congratulated Minister Foley on her appointment as Minister for Education and set out its key asks as she embarks on her new role.

The NAPD has been a key player in the education sector’s response and adaptation to challenges brought about by Covid-19. School leaders, already under resourced, have gone above and beyond to ensure continuation of learning for students and the successful implementation of the Leaving Certificate ‘calculated grades’ programme.

Clive Byrne, Director NAPD, says “There has never been a more challenging time for Irish education. We have endeavoured to adapt our teaching and examination processes so as to not disadvantage any student and we now need further resourcing and support from Minister Foley to make this a reality.”

As schools are asked to prepare to reopen this September, the immediate needs for the safety and wellbeing of all second level students and staff include:

  • Adequate financial resourcing for increased protection and cleaning requirements to prevent Covid-19 transmission.
  • Investments in technology and broadband infrastructure to allow remote learning and teaching for immunocompromised students and teachers.
  • Blended learning guidance and resources to optimise student experience.
  • Investment in school transport services to facilitate student safety, within public health guidelines.

The NAPD has also called on Minister Foley to acknowledge the learnings for the post primary education sector, during the Covid-19 lockdown and public health response. School leaders have outlined the need for substantial Leaving Certificate reform for many years. The challenges brought about by Covid-19 for executing the traditional, outdated, state examinations process have been brought to light and given full public scrutiny. It is now clear that a new approach must be taken.

The Programme for Government includes a plan to hold a ‘Citizens Assembly’ on Irish education and the NAPD believes this will be a crucial moment to strategise reform of the sector for the new Minister.

Commenting on the appointment of Minister Foley, Clive Byrne, Director NAPD, said:

“The NAPD, as the representative body of school leaders in over 700 secondary schools, looks forward to working closely with Minister Foley during the term of next Government. In order to achieve substantial progress for our students, we ask that the Minister engages with and listens to all education stakeholders.

“Of upmost urgency is the need to adequately resource and support secondary schools as we work to reopen this September. We must receive clear, realistic guidance from the Minister and her officials in order to protect the safety of all our students and staff.

“It would be regrettable for the Minister to not take learnings from the past number of months and the challenges Covid-19 has brought about for Irish education. We ask that we now move to future proof our state examinations system and execute reforms that have the best interests of our students at heart.

“School leaders and all those working in education have gone above and beyond in recent months and we must now address the long-term issues of principal recruitment and retention to ensure all our schools are appropriately led into a post Covid-19 era.” 

ENDS

For media queries:

Paddy O’Dea/ paddy@weare360.ie/ 086 357 3365

Barry Murphy/ barry@weare360.ie/ 087 266 9878

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.”

 ENDS