Leaving Cert 2017 results are released today, with thousands of students across Ireland discovering what’s in store.
This year’s crop of 58,000 Leaving Cert students is the first to sit the exams with a new grading system in place, driving many to take on more higher-level subjects than ever before.
More than 16,000 students sat the higher-level maths exam this year, an increase of 1,200, which has been praised by Ibec.
Senior executive for innovation and education policy at Ibec, Claire McGee, said: “The proportion of students taking the higher-level maths paper has almost doubled since the introduction of bonus points in 2012 and is a clear vindication of that decision.”
Key Leaving Cert subjects
McGee noted that incentivising other key subjects in a similar way could be a positive step for the country, adding that the new grading system has encouraged more students to aim higher.
It is also important, she said, for the Government to focus on teaching quality over the coming years to ensure these academic improvements are sustainable.
“The future of high-technology companies in Ireland will depend on sufficient numbers of suitably qualified graduates. If students want to pursue these disciplines, they must have a strong foundation in mathematics at secondary school.”
A sustainable STEM education system
McGee also said that the Government should make a concerted effort to implement the recommendations of the STEM Education Review Group, which issued a report in late 2016 outlining a STEM teaching strategy for Ireland.
The group recommended an increase in independent enquiry from students and more emphasis on experiential-based learning, thereby equipping them with the skills to adapt to a changeable working environment.
Along with general recommendations for changing teaching methods, the report also made mention of the urgent need to alter the perception that STEM careers are more suited to boys, and the requirement for more cohesive and accessible information about various career paths.