Statement on Calculated Grades from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Imperative Department of Education actively pursues a fair and equal process for the system of calculated grades

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) has set out to Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D. that the process for the planned system of school-based calculated grades must be fair and not exacerbate inequalities in the education system.

In its letter of May 27th to the Minister, the Commission strongly urges the Department to proactively consider its policy and guidance to schools on calculated grades, and the national standardisation process, in the context of its statutory Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty.  This is a positive obligation to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect the human rights of those who use its services.

In line with its Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty, The Commission has strongly recommended to the Minister:

  1. The Department of Education and Skills gives further effect to its own warning to teachers on the risk of unconscious bias by issuing specific guidance to teachers and schools on mitigating the risk of inadvertent discrimination stemming from unconscious bias.
  2. All teachers involved should, as best practice, complete online training on unconscious bias to support them in carrying out the alternative grading of students.

Acting Chief Commissioner Dr. Frank Conaty stated:

“Recent research from the UK indicates students who are both high-attaining and disadvantaged are more likely to receive more pessimistic grade predictions than high-attaining students from more advantaged backgrounds.

“The Department of Education and Skills’ own guide for teachers warns against the risk of unconscious bias as it relates to ‘socio-economic or family background’. 

“The stakes for individual students are too high not to make every effort to mitigate the risk that discrimination – however inadvertent – could make existing inequalities even worse.”

ENDS/

 

For further information, please contact:

Karen Joynt
M: 085 1746883
E: kjoynt@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

 

Notes to editor:

The full letter sent by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD is available on the following link:

Letter to Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D. on Calculated Grade System

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

Public Sector Human Rights and Equality Duty

All public bodies in Ireland have responsibility to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of their employees, customers, service users and everyone affected by their policies and plans. This is a legal obligation, called the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty, and it originated in Section 42 of the Commission’s founding legislation, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014.

 

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