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Wednesday 17 September 2014

There are lessons to be learned from 10-year study

Published 12/08/2014 | 02:30

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The ESRI research on the experiences of about 900 students in second-level school and beyond has thrown up a warts and all picture of how well the education system treats them.

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On a positive note, young people were generally positive about the personal and social development aspects of their education.

But, in the first report we heard about a disconnect between primary and post-primary, which can have huge implications for how well students settle in to second-level.

That is now being addressed by a Report Card, which students bring to their new school detailing their achievements and interests

Second year emerged as a crucial time, when 14-year-olds show how vulnerable they are to switching off.

A drift from education starts - from which many never recover - because students are not engaged with what is going on. The problem is mainly among boys and in disadvantaged communities.

In third year, a dark shadow is cast by the Junior Certificate. The focus is on getting through the exam at the end of the year, rote learning takes off and the drift continues.

The fun has gone out of learning and there is overall decline in the extent to which students were positive about school.

In fifth year, students reported a significant 'gap' in standards between junior and senior cycle, and 
found schoolwork much more difficult

By sixth year, Leaving Certificate candidates were reporting sleepless nights because of the "points race".

Now, the final report tells of the long-term, negative consequences of such experiences. How what happens in school can, for instance, determine whether a student goes to college, and, if so, how so many are ill-equipped for the rigours of third-level.

After a decade of research, the evidence is incontrovertible. Responses, such as reforms to junior cycle and the points system, are in train and should not be delayed.

Irish Independent

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