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'Grading system has robbed me of my dentistry college dream'

Aisling ‘downgraded in four H1 marks’ hitting CAO points

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Aisling was downgraded from a H1 in four subjects

Aisling was downgraded from a H1 in four subjects

Don Moloney

Aisling was downgraded from a H1 in four subjects

When the Leaving Cert results were released on Monday, Aisling Doran couldn't bear to watch the TV or listen to the radio as the reaction unfolded.

Witnessing the euphoria felt by many celebrating being part of the class of 2020, which received the highest results in history thanks to the calculated grades system, was too upsetting.

Aisling (17) was awarded 590 points by her teachers, but was subsequently downgraded in 80pc of her subjects and will now not have enough points for her CAO choices.

Disbelief

Her hopes of studying dentistry this year have been dashed. As her dad James Doran put it, instead of packing her duvet to go study in University College Cork or Trinity College Dublin, she will now instead be applying for the job seeker's allowance.

"I spent the last number of days watching Aisling crying and heartbroken as two years of extremely hard work has been taken from her in one click of a mouse," he said.

Aisling enrolled in Limerick Tutorial College, a private second-level school, two years ago in a bid to achieve her goal to become a dentist.

"My excitement was abruptly severed upon opening the results," she said. "A H2 in Irish was the first result I saw and my heart plummeted. Summers in the Gaeltacht and a pre-result of 85pc had led me to believe I would have secured the H1. I scrolled in a panic to reveal four more H2s in chemistry, biology, geography and business.

"All teachers for the named subjects had assured me after numerous exams that if I was to continue working as hard, I was headed toward H1s across the board.

"At first I broke down, collapsed on my bedroom floor while my parents stood, jaws dropped. I didn't understand how I was 50 points from where I should be. Thirty minutes later, I went back for a second look in utter disbelief. I refreshed and refreshed and refreshed."

Every course Aisling applied for was over 550 points. As she only achieved 540, she will likely not receive any offers through the CAO on Friday.

"She has been downgraded in 80pc of her H1s awarded to her by her teachers and to me that seems like a slap in the face to the teachers who we relied on in the last two years and who know her ability," Mr Doran said.

Like many students, Aisling experienced a stressful year with so much uncertainty. Her debs and graduation were cancelled and she says her mental health was seriously impacted during lockdown.

"The ongoing 'what ifs' and 'did you hear this?' went on for weeks. During this period I know both myself and my peers grew very anxious and apprehensive as we weren't getting answers. I wasn't sleeping right, not eating right and doing no exercise as I have been a passionate soccer player for years."

Anxiety

"Throw that into the mix of not having the outlet of going to the gym, playing sport, spending time with friends, worrying about vulnerable family members and all the other issues the virus brought for us," she said.

Aisling is considering sitting the Leaving Cert exams in November. Based on the results awarded by her teachers, she would have received a H2 in chemistry and a H1 in every other subject. She would have sat the chemistry exam in the event of CAO points for dentistry rising this year, due to the bumper results.

Her father said there is a big difference between having to sit five exams, compared to one.

"We are in shock that a system that was supposed to alleviate the stress and anxiety that the kids had been through since has been amplified for Aisling," Mr Doran said.