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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 28 January, 2020

A senator wants students to get CAO points for sports and social action

“It would especially benefit children from public schools around the country and level the playing pitch for them.”

File photo: students taking an exam.
File photo: students taking an exam.
Image: Martin Schutt/DPA/PA Images

A Fine Gael Senator is proposing to change the CAO applications system to give points for social and athletic involvement. 

Senator for Cavan-Monaghan Joe O’Reilly has proposed to change the current 625 points system to award 550 points for academic subjects and 75 points to social, cultural and athletic achievements. The plan received support on the floor of the Seanad and is backed by O’Reilly’s Fine Gael parliamentary colleagues.

“I accept the methodology of the current system but it doesn’t give recognition for students involved in social and active activities,” O’Reilly told

“I just want a system that will reward social action and affirm cultural and sporting activity.”

O’Reilly has discussed the issue with the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh and is planning to put forward a formal submission. Under the new system, 50 points would be awarded for social and community action and 25 points for cultural and athletic achievement.

It is hoped that the social points would give students “awareness, empathy and a desire to improve their world”. Social points would be granted for community activities such as helping the elderly. 

The new areas would be graded internally in schools and administered by a core pastoral team in each school. There would be national criteria and locally administered guidelines.

“It would especially benefit children from public schools around the country and level the playing pitch for them,” O’Reilly said.

The Senator added that the current system should be a bit more rounded but he understands the importance of focusing on academia. There is no set timeline for the initiative but he is hopeful it will progress further soon. 

“The sooner the better, but these things need to be tested first,” the Senator said.

Career coach and business mentor Ronan Kennedy believes the new system could be feasible and would build confidence levels of less academic students.

“I think we need to take a more holistic look at the ability of our young people in order to let them flourish,” said Kennedy.

He added that the points for athletic activities would benefit students as a “healthy body leads to a healthy mind”. 

“I wouldn’t think it would make it as accessible as we would like but it would help to build the confidence of a lot of people who are talented in other areas that may not transfer academically,” said Kennedy. 

The initiative aims to make students more intellectually rounded and active which would aid them in future academic study. 

A Department of Education and Skills spokesperson said the senior cycle in secondary school is currently under review with an advisory report due to be completed in June 2019. 

The spokesperson did not mention whether O’Reilly’s proposal would be included in the review.  

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