Students urge policy makers on review

SECOND-LEVEL students have urged policy-makers to adopt whatever changes to the Junior Certificate programme arise from an ongoing review, as more than 56,000 students collected their results.

With some concerns again raised about the standards achieved in maths exams, focus is now turning to the outcome of the new Project Maths programme being taught in all 730 second-level schools from this month.

It will be examined for the first time in the 2012 Leaving Certificate and the following year’s Junior Certificate, with the hope that the subject is more understandable and appealing to students.

The Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU), which represents hundreds of student councils in schools, said it looks forward to the report from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment on the junior cycle review.

Following former education minister Batt O’Keeffe’s call for an overhaul of the system last year, consultations have been taking place on reforming the assessment methods, with the possibility of reducing the number of subjects students take or giving recognition for shorter study programmes among the options.

However, a previous package of NCCA proposals to reform the senior cycle leading up to the Leaving Certificate was rejected by Mary Hanafin when she was education minister on grounds of the likely cost.

“We urge the Department of Education to take the results of the review on board when it is published, to enable students in future years to learn in a more student-friendly, creative and dynamic manner which discourages rote-learning but rather encourages critical thinking,” an ISSU spokesperson said.

As students began celebrating their results, with higher numbers than last year getting honours grades in most of the popular subjects, Fine Gael education spokesman Fergus O’Dowd said the maths results expose problems in the school system.

Although the proportion of Junior Certificate students who took the higher level exam continues to rise, the numbers failing the higher and ordinary level papers rose to 4.2% and 7.4%, respectively.

“Not only does Ireland need more students taking higher level maths at Leaving Certificate, we also need to improve the results. A look at how maths is taught from primary level up is needed and this review must take Junior Certificate results into account,” he said

There was more encouraging news on the results in science, as more than 70% of students took the subject at higher level this year, and 83% of those 35,488 candidates got an A, B or C.


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