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Students get 'safety net' on maths

AN institute of technology is to introduce a 'safety net' for students who fail higher level Leaving Certificate maths.

The 'second chance' maths exam will help students get into college who fail the exam and don't then have the minimum college entry requirements.

The support has been announced by Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), in the wake of the plan to introduce bonus points for higher level maths in 2012.

Under the new bonus points plan students who get a minimum D3 pass grade at Leaving Cert higher level get 25 extra CAO points.

It has emerged that WIT will simultaneously introduce an alternative maths exam for students who, for one reason or another, do not achieve the desired higher level result in the Leaving Cert.

The exam could also give a second chance to students who go to schools in areas of socio-economic disadvantage which do not offer higher level maths.

If they pass the WIT alternative exam, they would then be eligible for entry to some courses from which they would have previously been excluded.

The Government and multinational employers have championed bonus points as a way of improving national maths skills.

While the 13 institutes of technology support bonus points in principle, WIT is the first to announce formal approval.

The universities and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) have already given their official backing to bonus points. Additionally, DIT has also decided to deem a fail E grade at higher level as an ordinary level pass.

The final details of the WIT measure is still being worked out, but it is likely to take the form of an alternative maths exam, similar to what is already in place in a number of other third-level colleges, to give students another chance to display their skills.

WIT has also warned that while bonus points are an attempt to increase the numbers of students attracted to higher level mathematics, they alone are not sufficient to address the deficit in mathematics skills.

Registrar Derek O'Byrne said they were only one element of an urgently needed national maths promotion initiative.

He said that building confidence and competence in maths occurred early in the educational cycle and there was need to develop a stronger maths culture in primary and secondary schools

Irish Independent