The Minister for Education has lost her appeals against findings that two homeschooled students were unfairly excluded from the Leaving Certificate calculated grades process.
Minister Norma Foley had appealed against the High Court's decisions in two separate cases. However the Court of Appeal this afternoon dismissed both appeals.
The Appeal Court found it was unreasonable and disproportionate and an unlawful breach of the students' constitutional rights to exclude them entirely from the system.
The first appeal involved 18-year-old Elijah Burke from Co Mayo who was homeschooled by his mother, Martina, a registered teacher.
She was deemed to have a conflict of interest in providing estimated marks for the calculated grades process.
The second appeal involved a 17-year-old girl who was homeschooled mainly by her mother, with assistance from her father and private tutors, none of whom were registered teachers.
The Appeal Court found that excluding both students from any route by which their work might be subject to consideration for a calculated grade, when it was the only way to secure entry into third level in Autumn 2020, was unreasonable and constituted a disproportionate interference with their constitutional rights.
It ruled both students had constitutional rights to have reasonable account taken of their situation when education policies were being implemented by the State and both had suffered a "real and significant" impact by their exclusion from the calculate grades scheme.
The court also found there was a duty on the State to protect the family's authority and the parent's right to homeschool.
This duty must include accommodation of the parents' conscientious choice and lawful preference and it said the rights of the child must receive appropriate recognition by the organs of the State.
In both cases, the Court of Appeal made declarations that it was unreasonable, disproportionate and an unlawful breach of the students' constitutional rights for the Minister to refuse to consider them for calculated grades, without having any system in place to determine if their work was from a satisfactory, credible source.