Monday 21 January 2019

Aoife Walsh: July is right time for ‘Leaving Cert holiday’

Contact Aoife at Twitter: @edguidance. Photo: Tony Gavin
Contact Aoife at Twitter: @edguidance. Photo: Tony Gavin

Aoife Walsh

Many students report that sixth year is one of the best years of their school lives. When they make this statement they are not normally thinking of the academic side of things.

Their final year in school is also a time when they enjoy some truly memorable experiences with friends and classmates with whom they have shared their educational journey over the previous six or, even, 14 years.

Students are also often distracted with organising celebrations of exams that have not yet taken place. This includes the 'Leaving Cert holiday'.

At this time of year, many sixth year students are busy planning this event, which seems to have become part of the end-of-school ritual for increasing numbers.

As a result, one essential piece of advice I find myself giving to students at this time of year is to think about the timing of their holiday.

As ridiculous as it may sound, it is essential that this trip is not booked for the week of the Leaving Cert results and CAO offers.

In 2018, the results are likely to be released on Wednesday, August 15, with the CAO offers following on Monday, August 20.

This may seem like the perfect time for a holiday: an entire summer to save, the exams are over, the results are in, college offers are on the way or have landed. What better way to celebrate the end of an era with one's friends? A just reward for two years' hard work and sacrifice!

All that most of my students will have to do this week is collect their results from school, celebrate their achievement with family and friends and, on the following Monday, happily click accept for their offer. This can easily be done from Magaluf.

But, for some, there will be disappointment. Some will be upset by their results, especially when they first see them; some will want to apply to view their scripts straight away; some will need to attend interviews and make other plans as it becomes clear they are unlikely to receive their dream offer.

All of these things are so much more difficult if you are away from home.

Being away from home makes a difficult situation incredibly stressful for parents and students. Not only is it more difficult to cope emotionally if you are away from your support structure, but it becomes more difficult to seek advice and organise other options, of which there will be many.

Even students who are delighted with their offer may need to use this time to view and book accommodation, if they are moving away from home. This can cause challenges as the amount of available student accommodation does not meet demand.

No one wants to be in a situation where parents are trying to organise opportunities for students who are abroad.

Taking instruction through email or over the phone is impossible and, really, at 18 or 19, these young people need to take responsibility for their next step.

Many school leavers will find themselves in a situation where they must visit colleges, speak to advisors and discuss their plans. They must be at home to do this.

Leaving Cert holidays are becoming more popular than ever but, like everything in careers, students should strive to achieve everything they have dreamed of but plan for the worse case scenario as well.

So I will be advising my students to enjoy their holiday but, to be safe, to consider July.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin.

Q Is it true that the minimum entry requirements for primary teaching are changing next year?

Yes, it is. The Department of Education and Skills has announced new minimum entry requirements for the core subjects of English, Irish and maths for entrants to primary teacher education programmes. The changes take account of the new Leaving Certificate grading system and, in some cases (English and maths at ordinary level and Irish at higher level) involve a raising of the standard. For entry in 2018, applicants will need a H5 in Irish, an 05/H7 in English and an 06/H7 in maths. For entry in 2019 and 2020, applicants will need a H4 in Irish, an O4/H7 in English and an 04/H7 in maths. Consideration will be given at a future date as to whether any further changes should be made for entry in 2021.

Irish Independent

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