The Minister for Education has lost her appeals over High Court findings that two home-schooled students were unfairly and unlawfully excluded from the Leaving Certificate calculated grades process.
The Irish Independent reports that, in a 127 page judgment today, the three judge Court of Appeal dismissed Minister Norma Foley's appeals concerning High Court findings in separate cases by the two students.
The appeals court found it was “unreasonable and disproportionate” and an unlawful breach of the students’ constitutional rights, to exclude them entirely from the calculated grades scheme.
However, the court varied the declarations granted by the High Court in both cases.
The first appeal concerned Elijah Burke, an 18-year-old student from Castlebar, Co Mayo, who was home-schooled by his mother Martina, a registered teacher.
Because of her relationship to him, she was deemed to have a conflict of interest when it came to providing the teacher estimated marks on which the calculated grades process is based.
Last August, the High Court’s Mr Justice Charles Meenan said Mr Burke’s exclusion from the calculated grades process was arbitrary, unfair, unreasonable and contrary to law.
He said an independent teacher or teachers should be appointed to award estimated marks in each of Mr Burke’s Leaving Certificate subjects. Mr Burke has since been awarded 577 points under the calculated grades process.
The second appeal involved a 17-year-old student home schooled mainly by her mother, with the assistance of her father and private tutors, none of whom are registered teachers. The girl, a minor, cannot be identified.
In its judgment, the Court of Appeal said both home-schooled students possessed constitutional rights to have reasonable account taken of their situation when education policies were being implemented by the State.
It held that both students had suffered a “real and significant” impact by their exclusion from the calculated grades scheme and it was “unreasonable and disproportionate” to exclude both entirely from the scheme.