Minister Foley publishes the Education (Leaving Certificate) (Accredited Grades) Bill 2021

Published on: 23 April 2021

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has today (Friday 23 April) published the Education (Leaving Certificate) (Accredited Grades) Bill 2021.

The Bill provides for a system of Accredited Grades in respect of Leaving Certificate 2021 by conferring powers on the State Examinations Commission to run such a system.

Minister Foley said: “I am pleased to publish this important piece of legislation, which will grant authority to the State Examinations Commission to run the Accredited Grades process alongside the conventional Leaving Certificate Examinations this year.

“I would like to thank everyone involved in ensuring that the Bill has been published today and my colleagues in the Oireachtas for their support in progressing this Bill as quickly as possible, to the benefit of our Leaving Certificate students.

“The Leaving Certificate class of 2021 has had an extremely difficult time, and it is important that we have been able to provide them with choice, in respect of sitting the examinations, opting for Accredited Grades, or both, as decided by Government on 17 February. We have also provided for additional choice for students within the examinations and this has been communicated to them.

“All Leaving Certificate and Leaving Certificate Applied candidates will receive notification by text today from the State Examinations Commission that the candidate self-service portal will re-open on Tuesday next at 12 noon, for them to review and confirm their final options for each subject.

“This is an important step, and the final opportunity for students to review their choices.  Candidates taking examinations will be able to change their subject level on the day of the written examinations; however, the level in each subject which candidates select now will be their final level for the purposes of Accredited Grades. 

“I urge all our Leaving Certificate candidates to review their choices carefully, to have a look at the changes to the examination papers, and to make the best choice for them.

“All candidates are required to complete this process, even if their choices have not changed since March.”

The Bill published today will be progressed through the Houses of the Oireachtas in the coming weeks.

The Bill, as well as giving the SEC the legal power to run the Accredited Grades process, sets out the main elements of that process. It also provides a statutory indemnity for teachers and for others who will be involved in providing estimated marks as part of the process. It includes details of the sanction that can be imposed in cases of canvassing of those providing estimated marks, or in cases where false or misleading information is provided.  The Bill will also allow the SEC to provide Leaving Certificates to Leaving Certificate 2020 candidates, giving them the better of the results obtained by them between the 2020 Calculated Grades process and the later written examinations held in November and December 2020.

The Bill and Explanatory Memorandum are attached.

General guidance on all aspects of the Accredited Grades process is available at

The Department of Education will also support students, parents, school leaders, teachers and other school personnel and tutors, by providing a dedicated phone-line service for queries on the Accredited Grade process 2021. This will be available from Monday 26 April at the Department’s COVID Helpline on 057-9324461 (select option 2), Mon – Fri, 10.00 to 17.00, or by email to 

Preparations for Leaving Certificate 2021 are in train, with students having registered for examinations, Accredited Grades, or both.

There is ongoing engagement with education partners. Students have been informed of changes that have been made to the examination papers in light of the disruption to learning of the Leaving Certificate class of 2021 caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Initial guidance has been issued to schools in respect of the Accredited Grades process and further guidance will issue over the coming week.

All examinations will be held in line with public health guidance.

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