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‘I was expecting around 525 points. I thought my teachers would be fair and I got 554 points’

UCD

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Pleased: Shane Lee at his old school. Photo: Arthur Carron

Pleased: Shane Lee at his old school. Photo: Arthur Carron

Pleased: Shane Lee at his old school. Photo: Arthur Carron

Shane Lee was confident of getting an offer for his top choice of Commerce in UCD, although with a minimum of 520 points needed in CAO Round One in 2020, he had set himself a tall order.

I thought I would just about get it. I was expecting around 525 points,” says the former pupil of Tallaght Community School in Balrothery.

While he admits to being “a little bit worried” when the exams were cancelled, he also trusted his teachers “to be fair”. In the event, none of the teachers marks were altered in the calculated grades process and he came out with 554 points.

He is one of 10 former pupils of the school to accept an offer in UCD last September. It’s a double-digit progression rate and a doubling of the number who would typically transit to UCD.

While the 19-year-old was on target for his chosen course, principal Aidan Lynch says there was definitely an uplift in results among the 120 Leaving Cert candidates in 2020, which appears to have influenced progression patterns.

“We had one 600-points student and average points went up by 60. In other years, the average would have been around 250, but in 2020 it was above 300.

“I think the big thing is that some of the students got into a course that they may not have got into before.”

Undergraduate courses in higher education lead to qualifications at Levels 6/ 7 (higher certificate/ordinary degree) and Level 8 (honours degree). The Tallaght principal says that while, traditionally, they would have a relatively large number of students going into Level 6/7 courses they have been trying to get more into Level 8. The class of 2020 have advanced that ambition.

While there has been much debate over how calculated grades, which replaced the traditional Leaving Cert, played out in the final results, Mr Lynch says: “I know there was a lot of controversy, but our teachers did everything they were asked to do.”

The school, the first community school in the country, is in the centre of area of socio-economic disadvantage and puts a lot of effort into raising educational expectations among all its pupils.

Students participate in a number of access programmes aimed at encouraging more school-leavers from under-represented groups into college, which has also led to greater variety in their choices, including a trend to cross the city to DCU.


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