Thursday 21 September 2017

Leaving Cert English Higher Paper 1: Colourful and challenging paper that let creativity shine through

Loic Wright (left) and Darragh Walsh, pupils of CUS, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin, after English Paper 1
Loic Wright (left) and Darragh Walsh, pupils of CUS, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin, after English Paper 1

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

A very fair paper that allowed for a lot of creativity to shine through, was how one teacher described higher-level English Paper 1.

The theme in the comprehension section was story-telling, and Alan Thompson of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) said the three texts were very well written, well pitched and quite engaging.

However, he thought it was a little text-rich.

"It seems to be part of a trend, a move away from an emphasis on visual images," said Mr Thompson of Abbey Vocational School, Donegal.

It was in the composition section – where Mr Thompson noted a move away from essays pupils could prepare – that there was an opportunity for candidates to show their creativity, he said.

Jim Lusby of the Institute of Education said the general theme of storytelling, highlighting a literary technique or skill, was a welcome departure from the themed concepts, such as freedom and identity of previous years.

The range of question B tasks – a talk, an introduction to a book and an opinion piece – provided the paper with variety, because they intentionally avoided storytelling and put the emphasis on the effective expression of a point of view.

Mr Lusby described the selection of compositions as impressive, ranging from a serious speech, through two attractive personal essays, two exciting short-story options, an attractive descriptive essay on glimpsed moments in life, back to an informal discussion on rural and urban lifestyles.

"It was a colourful, challenging, though fair, paper, that only a student who actually dislikes literature could find unattractive, according to one teacher," he said.

Michael Doherty of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and Scoil Mhuire, Bundoran, Co Donegal, said students were very happy.

He said they found the story-telling theme interesting, with texts based around the art and technique of storytelling, and creating suspense.

Mr Doherty thought the text on William Trevor a "bit more challenging" and he wasn't sure it was the most popular choice.

He described the compositions as evenly pitched; the short story, which was very difficult last year, was "very doable".

Irish Independent

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