School does its sums on maths
Published 18/08/2011 | 05:00
THIS is the school that achieved success in maths where so many have failed.
Christian Brothers College is something of a rarity in that all of its 12 maths teachers actually hold degrees in the subject.
This is at odds with the national picture, where just half of second-level maths teachers are qualified in maths.
Yesterday, the fee-paying school in Cork was celebrating outstanding results in the subject that is proving the bane of Education Minister Ruairi Quinn.
The school saw 54 of its 123 Leaving Cert students sit the higher-level maths paper last June.
That is almost three times the national average of just 16pc. Of those 54 students, a remarkable 34 scored As -- with 22 achieving A1s.
Head of maths teaching, Ann Barry-Murphy, said it was "absolutely crucial" that Leaving Cert students be taught by teachers who were masters of maths as a subject.
"They (students) can sense any weakness or uncertainty. You absolutely must be a master of what you are teaching in the classroom," she said.
The CBC teacher also said that it was vital for students to be kept in the classroom until the end of May, just before the Leaving Cert exam cycle begins.
"It helps to keep students focused and sharp," she said. "The revision and work that are undertaken over those final three weeks are absolutely crucial."
CBC principal Dr Larry Jordan paid tribute to the work that had been achieved with maths teaching.
The school said it attributed its success to "a highly focused approach", which keeps students in the classroom until the end of May for strategic revision.
Pupils are encouraged to get involved with extra-curricular maths events, homework is rigorously checked and there is individual support for those who may be struggling to reach the required standard.
The emphasis is clearly on classroom work, rather than on pupils taking extra grinds
Even allowing for the fact that CBC is a fee-paying school, its success with maths teaching is particularly impressive, given the national slump in higher maths figures over the past three years.
Mr McCarthy said that while some schools effectively allowed students to study at home from early May because of concerns about end-of-school pranks and celebrations, CBC believes that staying focused for the final three weeks can make the difference of an entire grade in results.
The school has also found that private grinds can actually lead to some students becoming lazy in the classroom, in the belief that they can make up for any lapses during their private tuition.
"There is nothing better than the classroom as a learning environment," said Ms Barry-Murphy.
"But we also encourage students to take part in extracurricular math events, such as the TEAM Math championship and the Canadian maths competition, in which we participate.
"It is all about trying to make the subject as much fun and as enjoyable as possible."