Changes ‘would help students reach potential’

CHANGES should be made to the Leaving Certificate to allow more students, who are not interested in the points race, to reach their potential, teachers and business leaders said last night.

As more than 52,000 people — mostly teenagers — begin the established Leaving Certificate this morning, a further 3,282 are undertaking the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA).

It was set up a decade ago to cater for students who might not otherwise stay on to finish school or who are more interested in going straight to work than seeking college places.

Among the courses in which they will take exams over the next week are English and communications, social education, hotel catering and tourism, engineering along with agriculture and leisure studies.

Just under half of the country’s 740 second-level schools offer students the choice of doing the LCA but employers’ organisation IBEC said more workers could use the skills it and the Leaving Certificate

Vocational Programme (LCDVP) provide.

“These programmes have gone some way towards meeting the needs of students with different aptitudes, but a higher value is still placed on the traditional Leaving Certificate,” said IBEC assistant director of enterprise Caroline Nash.

“The LCVP and the LCA aim to develop practical skills such as communications and team work, which are considered crucial by employers.

“Unfortunately, during the course of a hectic and intense Leaving Certificate programme, these skills can be sidelined to focus on skills seen as essential.”

The importance of LCA and LCVP were also stressed by Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) president Paddy Healy, who sent wishes of luck to all those beginning exams today.

“These courses are geared towards preparing young people for adult life by ensuring they are educated in the broadest sense, with an ability to cope and thrive in an environment of rapid change,” he said.

“Students are encouraged to be innovative and enterprising in their studies and are afforded the chance to take responsibility for their own learning.

“We believe such skills should be fully integrated into the mainstream Leaving Certificate in the coming years.”

He said the Irish education system needs to blossom to facilitate the requirements of every type of young person.

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