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Home-schooled pupil wins right to be given a calculated Leaving Cert

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Student Elijah Burke at an earlier protest outside the Dail

Student Elijah Burke at an earlier protest outside the Dail

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Student Elijah Burke at an earlier protest outside the Dail

A Leaving Cert student who was home-schooled by his mother has won his High Court challenge against the Education Minister's decision to exclude him from the calculated grades process.

Elijah Burke, from Cloonsunna, Castlebar, Co Mayo, claimed the exclusion of students tutored by a parent or close relative from the calculated grades process breached his rights and was unfair and discriminatory, and he was being punished for being home schooled.

He claimed that as a result of the State's decision he would not be able to progress to third level education for at least another year.

In a significant judgement yesterday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan held that the calculated grade system that excludes home-schooled students on the grounds that a teacher has a conflict of interest was "irrational, unreasonable and unlawful".

Judge Meenan said the minister had refused to give Elijah a calculated grade because he had been taught by his mother Martina Burke, who is a qualified teacher, which was deemed to be a conflict of interest.

The court noted that a system was in place in schools to deal with scenarios where a Leaving Cert student has been taught by a parent or close relative.

"I am satisfied that a non-conflicted or independent teacher or teachers ought to be involved in the place of Elijah's mother in the system for the award of the estimated mark in each of the teen's Leaving Certificate subjects," said the judge.

Should it be possible to award the student marks, the process set out by the Department of Education for the awarding of calculated grades can operate for Elijah, the judge added.

During the hearing the court heard that around 10 other students were in the same situation as Elijah.

The judge said he was satisfied to quash the minister's refusal to provide Elijah with a calculated grade.

The judge also said he was satisfied to make a declaration that the refusal to provide Elijah with a calculated grade was "contrary to law".

Elijah has applied to do a degree in either biomedical sciences or history with music at National University of Ireland, Galway.

Excelled

The 18-year-old is one of 10 siblings who have all been educated at home by their mother, who have all excelled academically.

The judgement was delivered by electronic means and final orders in the case will be mentioned before the court at a later date.