Quarter of pupils 'drifting' by Junior Cert year
Since 2002, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has been involved in research with principals, teachers, parents and over 900 pupils in 12 schools exploring the experience at second-level and how it is serving the student.
The work is being done for government education advisers, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), with a view to informing policy making.
Research on first years found a discontinuity between primary and post-primary schools, including different teaching methods and repetition of what pupils had already learnt. It has prompted more formal communication between primary and post-primary schools.
The second-year study found that while most students engaged more fully with school, others began to drift, notably boys from lower socio-economic backgrounds or in the lower streams of streamed schools.
The study on third years found that over 25pc were drifting or had disengaged. Curriculum overload was identified as a problem, with students doing up to 15 subjects. Students expressed a preference for more practical learning and assessment -- prompting plans for greater emphasis on project and portfolio work and continuous assessment in the Junior Cert.
An associated study on early school leavers found one-in-six students drops out before the Leaving Cert -- most commonly students from poor backgrounds and boys.
ESRI also found that students who take the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) are facing major difficulties on leaving school because of the 'stigma' attached to it, prompting a rethink on whether they should be allowed blend it with elements of the traditional Leaving Certificate.