Coding errors may have left 10pc of Leaving Cert students with wrong results

30 Sep 2020

Image: © milatas/

Two errors have been discovered in the calculated grades for this year’s Leaving Cert, with as many as 6,000 possibly affected.

The Minister for Education Norma Foley, TD, is set to make a statement this afternoon (30 September) to address the discovery of errors found in the calculated grades for this year’s Leaving Cert.

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD, confirmed in the Dáil the discovery of two errors that would have given some Leaving Cert students the wrong grades. According to RTÉ, the errors could have affected approximately 6,000 students out of a total of 61,000 students who sat this year’s State exams.

However, an exact number of students affected will likely not be known for a couple of days.

An Taoiseach said the errors were “technical” and related to “coding” and that the outcome of an independent, external evaluation of the errors will likely see “upgrades for quite a number of students”.

‘Big problem or a minor headache’

A senior government source speaking with the Irish Independent said that this will be “a very big problem or a minor headache” depending on what the final number of students will be. Depending on an investigation’s findings, it may mean extra third-level places will be needed for affected students who may not have met the points requirement for their chosen courses if there is a material difference in points.

According to An Taoiseach, the use of an independent evaluator is to “ease as much anxiety” as possible for students and that they must be the priority right now in terms of being the first to know if they have been affected.

Approximately 56,000 students received calculated grades earlier this month based on an algorithm-assisted teacher-based assessment. This came after the cancellation of this year’s State exams following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Since then, the Department of Education and Skills has received more than 12,000 appeals from students asking for their grades to be rechecked.

Speaking on RTÉ News at One, the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, TD, said: “Our thoughts are with [affected students], obviously, because it is concerning for them” and that “if there are issues we will get them sorted.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic