Wednesday 21 November 2018

Link between papers a surprise, but 'curveball' is well received

LC English P1

Leaving Cert students Rachel O’Sullivan and Ciara McGann after sitting English Paper 1 at Presentation Secondary School, Ballyphehane. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Leaving Cert students Rachel O’Sullivan and Ciara McGann after sitting English Paper 1 at Presentation Secondary School, Ballyphehane. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

For the first time, the Leaving Certificate English Higher Level Paper 1 drew a link to Paper 2, which was well received by teachers, although not all students were impressed.

The focus of Paper 1 is comprehension and composition and the new approach featured in the comprehension questions, where candidates were asked to link to a text they had studied in poetry or prose.

According to teacher Kate Barry, "while it was a big surprise, my students were happy because it provided an opportunity to write more about what they know about".

Ms Barry, an ASTI subject representative and a teacher at Loreto School, Fermoy, Co Cork, said the questions, overall, were "fine, not too challenging". However, she had an issue with one where candidates were asked to write an opinion piece, suitable for publication in a national newspaper, about the education they received.

"I would criticise the question a little because it was very prescriptive; they had to acknowledge strengths, criticise weaknesses and make suggestions for improvement. I think if they left it a bit more general, it would throw up very interesting responses," she said.

Ms Barry said she really liked the question inviting candidates to write a speech on "language is a great weapon", which she described as "a very good discriminatory question; you could take it simplistically, or really run with it and do imaginative things."

Yeats College Galway teacher Sinéad Caslin Cregg said, overall, students were pleased with the paper, the theme of which was 'young writers'.

While the link to Paper 2 "threw some students", she said the "questions were manageable once the candidates gathered their thoughts".

According to Ms Caslin Cregg "apart from this slight curveball, the paper was actually very fair and reasonable" with "lovely comprehension texts" and essay titles that were "very fair and offered lots of choice".

She thought Text 3 was "highly unusual as it was an almost entirely visual text" and she believed students would have opted for the other two texts.

Ms Caslin said an essay on leadership was a lovely topic for students who enjoyed writing on current affairs, while the option to write a speech on the topic of language was a "popular choice".

The theme of the ordinary level paper was 'inspiring stories' and Ms Barry said students were happy, with comprehension questions that were "very much in line with previous years", while she described the essays as "fine".

Jim Lusby, of Dublin's Institute of Education, who welcomed the "radical development" of the link between Paper 1 and Paper 2 at higher level, described ordinary level as "an enjoyable paper for students".

Irish Independent

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