Belfast Telegraph

Students in call for exam reform

Student leaders have warned that the Leaving Certificate is in dire need of major reform.

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.

USI president Gary Redmond said Ireland needs to take a step back for a proper evaluation of the certificate.

"Today is a tense and anxious day for Leaving Certificate students receiving their results, as they look to the future with anticipation," he said. "For the past number of months, these students have been under an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure, studying intensely for an exam system that needs to be re-evaluated."

The USI claimed that students are being forced to do too many exams in too short a time at school which leads to high stress and reduced performance.

Mr Redmond added: "A new Leaving Certificate system of continuous assessment should be introduced for a fairer assessment of the performance of secondary school students over a longer period of time.

"The high failure rate in the subjects of science and maths in this year's Leaving Certificate also needs to be examined and the question of why only 50% of teachers are qualified to teach maths needs to be looked at."

A Government TD, Fine Gael's David Stanton, suggested all colleges and universities should adopt a safety net approach to maths allowing students who failed to re-sit the papers in the first year in third level. He said: "If we are serious about cementing our position as a country that can offer highly skilled graduates, we cannot ignore this problem.

"Maths is essential for a wide range of high-end sectors, including R&D and technology. The number of students taking the subject at higher level has been consistently falling in recent years. We need to reverse this trend."

The USI also offered some practical advice to the tens of thousands receiving their grades, who it urged to submit their maintenance grant application and start searching for suitable student accommodation as soon as possible.

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