THE FOCUS ON Junior Certificate results day is often on the night’s celebrations but first 58,798 candidates will have to receive their grades.
The State Examinations Commission (SEC) will reveal about 600,000 individual grades in 26 different subjects across Ireland’s secondary schools this morning. With an increase of 3.4 per cent on last year, 2012 saw the highest number of students to sit the exams in recent years.
Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has sent his “warm congratulations” to all this year’s candidates on their results.
“The wait between June and now has no doubt been long for you and your families,” said the Minister, “but I hope that the results today reflect the hard work you have put into your studies.”
Maths and science subjects were under the spotlight during last month’s Leaving Certificate results and subsequent CAO application offers, so the corresponding junior subjects will come under scrutiny today.
The failure rate in Higher Mathematics has dropped from 4.2 per cent in 2010 to 2.8 per cent this year, while there were also less people failing the Ordinary Level paper. However, there was also a decline in the percentage of candidates receiving the top grade.
A total of 27,913 students opted for the Higher Level paper, an increase of over 3,000 in two years. About 15 per cent of those were awarded an ‘A’ grade (a fall of over 2 per cent on last year), while almost 80 per cent were given either an ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’.
Twenty-four schools participated in the pilot Project Maths and Quinn said he was particularly pleased to see more young people sitting the higher level paper as it is a stated aim of the new curriculum. “I hope this is an indication of where we are going with maths,” he added.
The results in Science were largely the same as previous years with a failure rate of 1.4 per cent in Higher Level and 3.8 per cent in Ordinary Level. There was also a drop in the number of students receiving As, Bc or Cs.
There was some good news for foreign language departments in schools with less students failing French, German and Spanish. However, the number of Es, Fs and NGs recorded in Higher and Ordinary Level Irish increased this year.
There were some improvements within the Irish exam with changes announced two years ago having a “marked impact”. The marks for the oral exam were increased in 2010 from 20 to 40 per cent. While the oral component is optional, the number of candidates opting to be examined orally rose dramatically by 72 per cent to 7,388 since 2011.
With a jump in the number of candidates taking the Higher Level Business Studies paper, there was also a corresponding increase in the number of fails.
In the most popular subject, English, more candidates sat the higher level paper than at any time in the previous five years.
Candidates not satisfied with the marking of their papers can avail of the appeals process until 28 September. The application for review must be made through the school and accompanied with a fee of €32 (which will be refunded in the case of a successful appeal).
This year, the Chief Examiner will prepare reports on Business Studies, Home Economics, Music and Classical Studies. Published next year, these reviews contain detailed analysis of all aspects of the examining process, as well as recommendations for teachers and students.
“Remember to look after each other”
As students plan to mark the end of their time in the junior cycle, Alcohol Action Ireland has urged students to stay safe during the celebrations.
Charity director Fiona Ryan advised parents and teenagers to make a “who, what, where, when, how” plan ahead of going out tonight. “For some teenagers their celebration plans will involve alcohol – some will feel that they have to drink to celebrate even through they may not want to and others will feel even pressured to do so,” she said. “It is important to remind teenagers that ‘not everybody is doing it’ and support teenagers not to drink; half of teenagers do drink regularly but half don’t.”
At the same time we need to be very aware that a teenager who does drink may end up in situations where he or she feels uncomfortable or scared as a result of their own or someone else’s drinking. Teenagers need to know as parents that while you may not be happy with the fact they have been drinking, their safety is your priority and that they are to contact you if they are in trouble.
The group also said there was an onus on alcohol retailers not to sell drink to anyone under the age of 18.
The Education Minister encouraged students to enjoy the celebrations but also to “remember to look after each other”.