Tuesday 6 December 2016

Leaving Cert results: 'I was prepared for the worst' - student who got eight A1s

Ed Carty, Catherine Devine and Ralph Riegel

Published 17/08/2016 | 08:32

Loreto on the Green Student Niamh Ryan from Castleknock celebrates after getting 8 A1's in her Laving Cert outside Loreto on the Green
Loreto on the Green Student Niamh Ryan from Castleknock celebrates after getting 8 A1's in her Laving Cert outside Loreto on the Green
Student Rachel Mullally from Ballsbridge who got 595 in her Leaving Cert at Loreto on the Green, Dublin
Loreto on the Green Student Niamh Ryan from Castleknock celebrates after getting 8 A1's in her Laving Cert outside Loreto on the Green, Dublin
Six school leavers scored highest marks in eight subjects in the Leaving Certificate Exams

A YOUNG Dublin student who received eight A1 grades admitted that she feared the worst before she collected her results this morning.

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Niamh Ryan (18) of Loreto College, St Stephen's Green said that she was prepared for the worst this morning before collecting her results, which were among the six best scored nationally.

She said: "I was kind of prepared for the worst, so I was really relieved with what I got.

"It's such a relief to be finally finished it. I worked hard throughout the last two years, so I think that you get out what you put in."

The Castleknock local added that she was incredibly nervous before collecting her results.

"I just couldn't face (collecting the results). I just needed to get it out of my head so I went for a run to let it all cool off, but I had to face up to it in the end."

Niamh is now going to study chemical engineering in Cambridge, but before that she has the small matter of celebrating... although she seems a little bit less decisive about that.

"I actually have no clue what I am going to do this evening. I didn't know if I'd be celebrating or wallowing." 

Jessica O'Shea (18) of Regina Mundi secondary school in Douglas, Cork was also surprised to be among the highest points scorers.

"I really didn't expect results this good," she said.

"I had hoped I would do well. I thought the Leaving Cert exams were OK last June but I was still very nervous this morning over how I would do."

"I did sleep last night but I was very nervous."

"I never dreamed my results would be this good."

Jessica, who has two siblings, Craig (21) and her twin, Ian (18), is now hoping to study primary school teaching at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick.

"I don't know how Ian did this morning. He sat his Leaving Cert at Rochestown College but I haven't heard yet how he got on."

Jessica said she was also very pleased that her friends did well at Regina Mundi.

The school was ranked No 1 in Ireland in 2004 for its overall Leaving Cert results and subsequent college placements.

Jessica's eight A1s came in Irish, English, Maths, German, Geography, Biology, Accounting and Music.

Her parents are now planning a quiet family celebration for Jessica and Ian before the youngsters hit the town.

"I'm heading out tonight with my friends. We haven't decided on anything yet but we are going out to celebrate," she said.

Andrew Cleary (18) from Dublin said he’s “absolutely delighted” with his eight A1s and one A2.

“The principal opened my results and his facial expression said it all as he handed it over to me. It’s a tradition that the principle opens them first.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” he said.

Andrew from Gonzaga College, Sandford Road, Dublin studied four languages; Irish, French, Spanish and Latin as well as Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Applied Maths.

Andrew who was born in Columbia said Maths is his favourite subject and is looking forward to studying Theoretical Physics at Trinity College Dublin.

“I had mixed feelings about the exams back in June because I thought they were tougher than previous years. I was nervous last night because you just don’t know how they’re going to go.”

Andrew said the work he put in during fifth year stood to him in sixth year.

“Tonight I can’t wait to celebrate. I’m going to go have dinner with my family and then head to a club with my friends tonight.

Emma Louise Ruane (18) from Mayo said she had to keep blinking to take in her eight A1s.

“I opened the envelope and I was in shock. I had to blink a few times because it was so surreal,” she said.

Emma Louise from Mount St. Michael’s Secondary School, Claremorris, Co. Mayo said the exams were tough and that it was “impossible” to predict the results.

“There was no exam that I though I did poorly in and there was no exam were I thought I had definitely got an A1. It was impossible to know,” she said.

Emma Louise hopes to go to Trinity College to study Management science and information systems studies (MSISS).

“I wanted to keep my course broad because I kept changing my mind. I’ve wanted to do medicine and pharmacy and finally decided on MSISS.”

She said she “kept her head down” for the two years and worked hard from day one of fifth year.

“I’m looking forward to going out with my friends tonight in Westport to celebrate,” she said.

She studied Irish, English, Maths, French, Biology, Chemistry, Accounting and Economics.

Student Annie Duffy from Ballinrobe Community School in Co Mayo also received eight A1s.

While no-one managed to repeat the feat of the last two years of nine A1s, a studious group of school leavers scored highest marks in eight subjects.

Three Dublin schools had students who received eight A1s, while Mayo and Cork also had high achievers.

Here are the schools where students received eight A1s.

Gonzaga College, Sandford Road, Co Dublin

Loreto College, St. Stephen’s Green,  Co Dublin

Coláiste Eoin, Bóthar Stigh Lorgan, Co Dublin

Regina Mundi College, Douglas Road in Cork City

Scoil Cnócan Mhichil Naofa, Clár Chlainne Mhuiris, Co Mayo

Community School, Convent Road, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo

Some 58,466 students are anxiously awaiting their results with analysis showing results largely in line with recent years.

One of the most significant changes is the number of students aiming for extra points by sitting the higher level maths papers.

Some 15,198 students were in for it this year with 5.5% hitting the top grade A1, a marginal increase on last year, and about one fifth took grades of C and above in those exams, an improvement welcomed by business chiefs.

The numbers sitting the exam have jumped by almost 4,000 since the 25 point bonus was introduced in 2012.

Education Minister Richard Bruton urged students to consider all their options as they mark the milestone.

"As our economy comes out of a very difficult period, many new opportunities have opened up for young people, in the further education and training sector, including traineeships and apprenticeships, as well as in the third level sector," he said.

"This is an important milestone and can be a time of great celebration and indeed relief for students and their families as the results become available. I am happy to see that the results and trends are on a par with previous years".

Mr Bruton added: "I want to say to students who feel that they may not have done as well as they had hoped that all is not lost. Take time to look at all the options that are open to you and can lead you to your chosen career path".

At the top of the results pile, figures from the State Examinations Commission revealed 11 subjects where there were falls of more than 1% in the number of students securing A1 grades.

On the flip side, four subjects saw an increase of 1% or more in the numbers hitting A1. They included the combined physics and chemistry papers, agricultural economics, engineering and Arabic.

The Government has been pushing for more science graduates in recent years but the percentage of students hitting top marks in physics was down 2%, while it was down 2.3% for chemistry and 1% for biology.

But there have been significant increases of 20% in candidates taking physics and 11% in candidates taking chemistry in 2016 over the last three years.

Other shifts in high grades were in accounting where the percentage of A1s was down almost 4%.

Business group Ibec raised concerns about falling numbers of students taking languages with 44% of students sitting French and 13% German.

Junior minister for training and skills John Halligan urged students to consider science and engineering subjects.

"There are so many opportunities awaiting young people in the further education and higher education sectors in these growing sectors of our economy," he said.

"These areas offer qualifications vital to economic prosperity, with exciting career prospects for graduates."

Students were urged to consider all options with the race for college places to begin in earnest next week.

Children's Ombudsman Dr Niall Muldoon said: "The Leaving Cert is an extremely stressful experience for all students, but particularly for those with special learning difficulties.

"We know, that with the right supports, these students can reach their full potential, and I hope that the majority are happy with what they have achieved."

The ombudsman's office raised concerns this year about a lack of supports for students with learning difficulties in exams.

Dr Muldoon said: "I wish all students receiving their exam results tomorrow the very best of luck. Remember, whatever results you get - they are only scores in a test and they don't fully reflect who you are as a person."

The results day also prompted warnings from the Road Safety Authority for students to stay safe on the roads.

Moyagh Murdock, RSA chief executive, said: "Just because you're celebrating tonight doesn't mean you should take any risks. You have your whole life ahead of you so be smart, plan ahead and get home safely tonight."

The RSA noted 12 people aged 16-20 have died on the roads.

mong those receiving results today are more than 2,800 students who took the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA), an alternative to the traditional academic exams.

There were also 23 students from Libya who took the Leaving Cert in Libya, a tradition stretching back to 1997 at the International School of Martyrs. The exams were held in Malta due to the unstable security situation.

Next year the results system for the Leaving Cert is being changed from 14 grades to eight.

Each grade will be worth 10% and will be recorded for the higher level from the top down as H1 to H7 and O1 to O7 at ordinary level.

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