Friday 20 January 2017

Quinn needs to get grip on maths

Published 19/08/2011 | 05:00

The terribly poor maths and science results achieved by students in this year's Leaving Certificate examination amount to nothing less than a national emergency. With barely a sixth of all students taking higher level maths, as against the almost two-thirds of students taking higher level English, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn urgently needs to get a grip on the maths crisis.

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Since becoming Education Minister last March, Mr Quinn has certainly talked the talk. Plans have been unveiled to replace the discredited state training agency FAS with a new organisation, Solas, while the ground has also been prepared for the restoration of third-level fees in 2012. Also firmly on the agenda are raising the school-going age to five and the abolition of the transition year.

That was the easy bit. As this week's Leaving Certificate results demonstrated yet again, there remains an enormous problem with the standard of maths and science teaching. Not alone did just 10,000 students, a mere sixth of the total, sit the higher level maths paper, more than 4,000 students failed the subject altogether with the failure rate in the ordinary level paper running at 10pc. This was the highest failure rate for any subject.

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