Record numbers take Junior Cert higher level maths
JUNIOR Certificate pupils are embracing higher-level maths in record numbers. The figure for those planning to take the 'honours' paper is up again this year, rising to 56pc of candidates.
It mirrors a similar trend at Leaving Cert level since the introduction of 25 bonus CAO points for candidates who achieve at least a grade D.
The new Project Maths syllabus is also credited with encouraging more students to take the 'honours' paper.
The bonus points incentive was rolled out in 2012 in a bid to improve national performance in maths and ensure that Ireland has enough graduates with the necessary thinking skills for 'smart economy' jobs.
The effect was immediate and dramatic, with significant increases in uptake not only among Leaving Cert students, but also in Junior Cycle.
Pupils interested in taking higher level in the Leaving Cert need to plan ahead by studying at higher level for the Junior Cert.
The 56pc currently intending to take the higher level in the Junior Cert this year compares with 49pc at the same time two years ago and 43pc in 2009.
There has been an overall increase of about 1pc in entries for Junior Cert 2014 to 60,647, but the 5pc rise in entries for higher level maths – currently 33,748 – exceeds that.
While there may be some fall-off by the time the exams come around, any slippage will be from a record high.
Pupils raising their sights to higher level have been rewarded, with 97pc of those taking the paper in the Leaving Cert achieving at least a D grade since the bonus points were introduced.
The Department of Education and the employers' organisation IBEC have welcomed the continuing rise in interest in higher level.
A spokesperson for the department said the indications represented a positive and promising development, adding: "It would suggest to us that there is a welcome backwash effect from the bonus points for higher level maths in Leaving Cert."
Tony Donohoe, IBEC's head of education policy, said the "very encouraging" figures should increase the pool of candidates who take higher level at Leaving Cert.
They would eventually be qualified to take up careers in science, technology and engineering.
He said maths was also an important life skill and that young people needed to develop the ability to interpret and analyse numerical and statistical data.
Mr Donohoe said it was also necessary for the Government to continue to invest in curriculum resources and in teachers' professional development.