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RADICAL changes in the way Leaving Certificate maths and Irish

Posted by Francis O' Toole on August 16, 2012

RADICAL changes in the way Leaving Certificate maths and Irish are being taught has reaped rewards for students, exam results reveal.

Even though the number of A1s in higher maths dropped slightly, the Government and industry chiefs heralded the roll-out of a new syllabus and the huge rise in students aiming for the toughest exams.

Official results from the State Examinations Commission (SEC) show a fall in top achievers in maths, but they also show that almost 3,000 more students are trying the hardest papers.

The other major syllabus change also appears to have paid off as the focus on spoken Irish sees higher-level student numbers shoot up by almost 1,600 to 37pc.

At the same time the A1 rate jumped from 5.7pc to 7.3pc, a total of 1,163.

The Department of Education attributed the dip in the number of A1 performers in maths on the 35pc increase in students taking higher level.

Of the 11,131 taking higher paper – more than a fifth of all students – only 345 secured A1 and 712 got A2 but more pupils got B and C grades and a slight fall in the number of fails was recorded.

The results will boost many of the 55,815 Leaving Certificate students as a new bonus-points system gives 25 additional college-entry points for those with a grade D3 or above in higher-level maths.

Ruairi Quinn, Education Minister, said: “There is no doubt that the 25 bonus points for all those who achieve a D3 or higher in the subject has made a significant impact, as has the continued roll-out of Project Maths.”

The 2012 Leaving Certificate is the first time that all students were examined on two of the five strands of the new user-friendly syllabus, designed with practical applications in mind.

Just 1,984 students in 24 schools took the exams after being taught the entire maths syllabus through the new system.


Both the Irish Business and Employers Confederation lobby group and the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland said the bonus-points systems encouraged more students to push for the tougher paper.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) said the total number of students sitting the Leaving Certificate was down 3.2pc on 2011.

Mr Quinn said: “The Leaving Cert is a significant rite of passage in Irish life and will open new doors of opportunity in education and training for our young people. However, it is not the only avenue into the next stage of your life.

“While many will be awaiting the CAO announcements next week, I would also encourage those who may be disappointed with their results today to seriously consider the other options available to them, such as further education level five and six Fetac awards. These offer fantastic opportunities and also an alternative route to higher education, if that is your wish.”


The SEC report card shows:

– Maths: failure rate at 2.3pc for higher level; a record 11,131 students sat the higher paper, an increase of about 3,000 on previous years. There were 1,057 As and an 83pc ABC pass rate. At ordinary level, 33,916 sat the paper, down more than 3,500 on last year, with the A1 rate dropping to 1pc.

– English: 32,965 students took higher level, with 4.1pc achieving A1 and about three-quarters achieving A-C.

– Irish: an emphasis is on the oral which is now worth 40pc of the marks. The number of pupils achieving A1 is 1,163, up 7.3pc, and the failure rate is below 1pc. Huge numbers still took ordinary level: 22,875 compared with 15,937 doing higher.

– Chemistry: 6,705 students sat the higher paper, with 11.5pc on A1 (virtually no change from last year). The number of fails increases slightly to 9pc and the fail rate for ordinary level jumps to 16pc this year.

– Physics: 4,753 sat higher exams. The A1 rate edges up slightly to 9.7pc and the failure rate edges down slightly to 7.3pc.

– Biology: an A1 rate of 7.6pc at higher level was recorded, with 22,740 sitting the paper (up 1pc).


– Ed Carty Irish Independent


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