Belfast Telegraph

Reform pledge amid results concern

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has vowed to shake up the Leaving Certificate amid concerns that continued poor maths and science results highlight the need for wider reform.

With industry chiefs, teachers, student leaders and education experts questioning the system and near static failure rates, Mr Quinn said new initiatives were already showing positive results.

The minister pledged to reform the Leaving Certificate after the junior secondary programme is overhauled.

"It does concern me. We do have a problem here," he said.

Both the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) and Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (Asti) claimed worsening pupil-teacher ratios have forced some students and schools to drop subjects and teaching methods.

Asti president Brendan Broderick claimed there had been a 3.4% drop in the number of students taking physics and a 4.8% drop in the number taking German.

"It is clear that if the pupil-teacher ratio is targeted again, more schools will be forced to drop subjects that are vital to economic recovery," he said.

TUI president Bernie Ruane said she was gravely concerned about a 5% drop in numbers taking the Leaving Certificate Applied option which traditionally kept students at greater risk of dropping-out in education.

"This is a clear illustration of the damage that education cuts wreak on the most vulnerable students," she said.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) called for an inquiry into why only half of teachers are qualified to teach maths and urged the Government to move away from one-off exams to continuous assessment.

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