Monday, July 10, 2006

School league relegation woes

Moves are underway to publish league tables of schools' exam performances. The report comes as we await the verdict in an exam-fixing scandal that could see some of the country's most successful schools relegated to lower divisions.

A tribunal in Dublin Castle is investigating charges that the schools, their management, exam officals and examiners tried to influence the outcome of exams by interfering with the appointment of officials.

Counsel for the tribunal has called for one school to be relegated to the third division, and for three other schools to be demoted to the second division: all four schools would be docked points at Leaving Cert level. The tribunal could also hand down fines, bans from scholarship competitions, and the schools could even be stripped of debating contest titles.

"It's a disaster," one teacher from an affected school said. "We might be banned from the rugby. There's even talk that we might have to play Gaelic football. The parents won't be happy. That is not what they're paying for."

Balls: Students and parents are said to be upset by what they see as government interference in how they spend their money. "If I'd wanted my boys to be playing with round balls I'd have sent them to the Christian Brothers," said one mother.

The four schools have denied the allegations.

If the schools are found guilty then, it is feared, their star students may exercise escape clauses in their contracts to secure big-money moves to other schools. A star Chemistry student at one of the exclusive south-Dublin schools involved commented, "It's todally stupid, like. I mean, hello?"

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