Friday 30 September 2016

Teachers 'feel it just as much' when students don't get college courses, says principal

Greg Harkin

Published 18/08/2016 | 11:16

Loreto Convent students Megan Ward, Michaella Bonner, Afric Doherty and Kathleen Sweeney were happy with their results in the Leaving Cert. (North West Newspix)
Loreto Convent students Megan Ward, Michaella Bonner, Afric Doherty and Kathleen Sweeney were happy with their results in the Leaving Cert. (North West Newspix)

THEY have the points, now comes the wait for the offers next Monday for 170 girls who sat the 2016 Leaving Cert at Loreto Secondary School in Letterkenny.

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And for Head Girl Eilís Cusack it will mean waiting – like many Donegal students who go to college in the UK – for the required points from there.

“I’m over the moon with how it went,” said the 18-year-old who has applied to do Occupational Theray on an NHS course in Aberdeen.

“I was over for the interview and I fell in love with the place so hopefully I’ll be accepted over the next few days.”

For Kathleen Sweeney, a new career as a secondary school teacher beckons.

She is destined for NUI Maynooth to study French and Irish.

“I haven’t sorted my accommodation yet but that will start on Monday when the offers come out,” said the 18-year-old from Convoy.

Friend Aoife Conaghan, also 18, has engineering at UCD at the top of her target list.

“I hope I’m in,” said Aoife from Newtowncunningham.

“I got the points that were good enough last year for the course so hopefully they don’t go up.

“There has been a jump in the number of people doing engineering and science so I’ll have to wait until Monday to see how we end up.

“It’s a good course because it would allow me to keep Spanish.”

Principal Nora Friel says that while today is important for results, Monday “is probably even more important when the offers come out”.

And she said it Leaving Cert results day remains just as important for the teachers, who had gathered at the convent school – where students come from 30 different countries – from early morning.

“We have a teaching staff who give their all,” she said.

“The teachers are just as nervous and were in first thing to see what the results were. They feel it just as much when students don’t get what they wanted.

“We’ve had a very good morning. We’ve had a large number of A1s across all the subjects not that that is the ‘be all and end all’.

“Monday will be the big day for the girls now and until they see what points are required for courses, for many it is a waiting game.”

Loreto retained two guidance counsellors through the education cutbacks imposed after the economic crash.

Ms Friel said that decision remained a cornerstone of the ethos of the school.

Those guidance teachers Karen Crowe and Brid Mulhern will remain at the school over the next week as they await the CAO and UCAS course offers.

Said Brid: “I think we had a situation where perhaps those who took the decision to cut guidance counsellors where at school themselves at a time when there were very few of us and maybe they didn’t recognise the need for us or understand the work we do.

“Thankfully we have remained here at Loreto when there has never been a greater need and at a time when there is even greater need, particularly for counselling.

“When you can help a student deal with issues, it helps them academically because it means when she’s in class she can concentrate more on her studies without worrying about what else may be going on.”

Karen added: “We’ll be here for the girls over the next few days to help them deal with whatever comes next because it’s important that every student knows that there is something for them next.”

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