Maths failure rate rising in Junior Cert

Claire Murphy

MATHS failure rates at Junior Cert level continue to rise, but science is evolving into a subject with the greatest uptake. Over 56,000 students opened the envelopes containing their Junior Cert results today.

Over 56,000 students opened the envelopes containing their Junior Cert results today.

But business representatives and educators have expressed concern at the worsening results as higher level maths was one of the least popular subjects.


The failure rate in maths was highest at ordinary level, with 7.4pc of candidates achieving less than D compared with 1.6pc in Irish, 1.8pc in English and 4.4pc in science.

And close to 47pc of the 55,290 students who sat maths took the ordinary level papers and 7.4pc could not achieve a D grade or higher.

This year's English grade showed slight improvement and more students opted to sit the higher level exam.

A total of 77pc of honours level English students received an A, B or C grade.

The amount of students with honours in higher level Irish has now passed the 80pc mark but students are failing to grasp foreign languages as more than 11pc of students failed both French and Spanish at ordinary level while some 6pc failed French at a higher level.

Failure rates were also high in Italian, with 7pc of students failing the exam at both higher and ordinary level.

A large number of students failed to make the grade at a range of practical subjects at ordinary level, including metalwork, technical graphics and technology.

Education Minister Mary Coughlan said she was encouraged that over 88pc of students took science and that the proportion of students taking higher level maths had increased to 45pc.


Business group IBEC called for a replacement of the Junior Certificate with a less exam-focused curriculum, which would emphasise a broader range of skills and stimulate pupils' enthusiasm for learning.

Tony Donohoe, IBEC head of education policy, said a broader curriculum was needed to encourage "creativity, flexibility, independent thinking and appetite for learning".