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Leaving Cert maths paper highlights flaws in current system - Crowe

13 June, 2006

Speaking earlier today Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Seán Crowe sympathised with students and teachers in their indignation at yesterdays Leaving Cert Higher Level Maths paper which by all accounts was "outrageously difficult and full of tricks". Deputy Crowe described the leaving certificate system as an "academic pressure cooker."

Speaking today he said, "Maths as a subject has been declining in popularity over the last number of years. Only 11,000 students took the higher option in this subject yesterday. Making the exam more difficult and actually attempting to trick students will inevitably result in a further decline in the take up of the subject. However with our knowledge economy, mathematics as a subject must not be undermined.

"Whilst this exam has caused upset amongst teachers and students alike, we must question the entire Leaving Certificate system which aims to essentially judge a students academic performance over a stressful 2 week period. Sinn Féin has argued for greater continual assessment to be introduced in all subjects. This method would ensure that students are assessed on a regular basis, which would lead to less stress and the opportunity for students to do themselves more justice.

"The current situation is unacceptable. An academic pressure cooker has been created in which students have to compete against one another to amass the most points so that they can get into their preferred course. We should not be pitting our students against one another but instead should be encouraging each and every student to develop their education and fulfil their particular potential. We should not have to resort to measuring a student's potential and ability by Points.

"Students should not have to rely on guessing what will come up on the examination paper, to have sleepless nights cramming or to attend expensive grinds, an option open to the few. We must replace this flawed examination process with a fairer, transparent and more relaxed method of continual assessment designed for students and not for an academic rat race. All students should be facilitated to develop their potential in their own time and at their own pace rather then taking part in a 'do or die' examination process. This highlights the need for change in the system and serious discussions regarding reform must be had between the Minister for Education and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment." ENDS

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