Katherine Donnelly: Not every Leaving Cert student needs higher-level maths
Published 28/04/2016 | 02:30
The biggest issue on the minds of many sixth-year students at the moment is whether to stick with higher-level maths.
The lure of the 25 CAO bonus points has encouraged ever-increasing numbers to rise to the challenge. Last year, candidates taking the 'honours' paper reached over 27pc, close to the Government target of 30pc.
The bonus was designed to draw good ordinary-level candidates out of their comfort zone and get them to develop their maths brains.
It was well motivated. The country needs school-leavers and graduates with a high proficiency in maths, because those skills are essential for jobs in the modern economy.
But it is a hollow victory for target-setters if, along with those who can easily stretch themselves, there are others who are overstretched, and left devastated by their efforts. Not achieving a minimum D3 leaves students with no points for that subject - and not even the 'pass' in maths required for most college courses.
Gaining entry to college is the ambition of most school-leavers, but higher-level maths is not necessary for the overwhelming majority of courses. Those who are attracted to courses where maths is needed generally have the aptitude for it.
A student sweating away these days and nights at honours maths might be better-off spending that time doing a little more on other subjects and picking up an extra five or 10 points here and there. Some 25 extra points might more easily come to them that way, and a chat with a teacher or guidance counsellor would help.
The report gives those who set the curriculum plenty to chew on in relation to the Project Maths syllabus.
They express the hope that, as teachers and students become more familiar with the new syllabi, overall performance will improve. Then, maybe more students will more easily be able to take on the 'honours' paper.