Belfast Telegraph

Students rewarded after big changes

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

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 37%. At the same time the A1 rate jumped from 5.7% to 7.3%, a total of 1,163.

The Department of Education attributed the dip in the number of A1 performers in maths on the 35% 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.

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. The SEC said the total number of students sitting the Leaving Certificate was down 3.2% on 2011.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn 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.

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."

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