Second home-schooled Leaving Cert student takes legal action over grades

ireland
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Aodhan O'Faolain & Ray Managh

A second Leaving Certificate candidate that was home-schooled by a parent has brought High Court proceedings against the Minister for Education's refusal to consider her application for calculated grades.

The latest action has been brought by a 17-year-old student from outside Dublin, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

The candidate was informed by the Minister in recent days that it was not possible to provide her with a calculated grade in any of the six subjects she has studied because of the absence of satisfactory or credible evidence on which to base a grade estimate.

The student, who is suing through her mother, dispute that decision.

The latest action comes after 18-year-old Co Mayo student Elijah Burke, who was also home schooled by a parent, won his High Court challenge against the Minister's refusal to grant him a calculated grade for each of the nine subjects he studied.

In his judgement earlier this month Mr Justice Charles Meenan directed the Minister, who had opposed the action, to put steps in place to allow Elijah be assessed for a calculated grade.

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At the High Court on Monday Brendan Hennessy Bl instructed by solicitor Antony Collier for the student said that the 17-year old's action was very similar to Mr Burke's claim.

Not a qualified teacher

There was one significant difference, counsel said, and that was the parent in this case is not a qualified teacher. Elijah Burke, who along with his older siblings was tutored by his mother Ms Martina Burke who is a qualified teacher.

Counsel said that the applicant in this case had been educated at home mainly by her mother, with the assistance of her husband and tutors, who are not now nor had they ever been registered teachers.

Counsel said that the teen's siblings had been educated at home, and had done well when they had sat their Leaving Certificate examinations.

The court heard that the teen had studied six subjects, and had expected to gain a place at a third-level college. After the cancellation of the Leaving Cert examinations the teen applied to the Department of Education for a calculated grade.

She claims that there is a significant body of work done by the teen as part of her studies that could be assessed by an independent teacher who could determine whether the candidate could be awarded a calculated grade.

In a sworn statement the student's mother said the decision to exclude her daughter from the benefits of the calculated grade scheme "seems to my mind unjust and discriminatory."

In the action against the Minister the teen seeks orders compelling the Minister to consider and determine within a reasonable time her application for calculated grades.

She also seeks an order quashing the Minister's refusal of August 11th last to grant her a calculated grade.

She further seeks a declaration that the refusal to provide the teenager with a calculated grade as she was home schooled by her mother is irrational, arbitrary, unfair and contrary to natural justice.

Permission to bring the application was granted by Mr Justice David Keane. The application was made in the presence of counsel for the Minister Mr Joseph O'Sullivan Bl, who said his client was not opposing the leave application.

The matter will return before the court later this week.

Mr Hennessy said that while there is an urgency about getting the case heard, it was accepted that the matter will not be heard until after the Leaving Certificate grades are issued on September 7th next.

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