Entries for Junior Cert top 60,000 – thanks to mid-'90s baby boom
While Leaving Cert figures are reasonably stable, the anticipated boom in second-level pupil numbers is showing up in Junior Cert statistics.
As a temporary slump in second-level student numbers works its way through the system, there are 56,602 candidates entered for the Leaving Cert, down from 57,090 last year.
However, Junior Cert entries are up to 60,243 – the first time they have topped 60,000 in at least a decade – reflecting the baby boom in the mid- to late- 1990s.
The exams cost over €60m a year, and are a major logistical exercise, including the setting up thousands of special centres for students who, for one reason or another, cannot take the exam in a main hall.
These are often pupils with a special educational need who may need to use a tape recorder or computer, or a reader or scribe to sit the exam.
The State Exams Commission's Scheme of Reasonable Accommodation also supports pupils in other ways, such as granting a spelling or grammar waiver for those with certain learning disabilities.
Last year, it accommodated 14,633 Leaving and Junior Cert candidates, including setting up 9,782 special centres, either for individual or small groups of candidates. That is more than double the 4,786 ordinary exam centres.
The scheme is intended to diminish, as far as possible, the impact of a physical or learning disability on a candidate's performance.
Meanwhile, packing procedures for exam papers have been tightened after problems last year when the wrong CDs were sent out to some centres.
The improvement in packing protocols and procedures arose from difficulties when Leaving Cert Irish aural CDs were discovered in a small number of packets destined for Junior Cert candidates sitting an exam some days earlier.