herald

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Booze warning issued to parents ahead of Junior Cert celebrations

Minister Joe McHugh
Minister Joe McHugh

The wait is over for 64,330 students, who receive their Junior Cert results today, a few weeks later than usual.

Among them are 19 students who achieved 11 As or Distinctions, the near equivalent to an A in the new grading regime for subjects that have gone through the Junior Cycle reforms, and 88 who received 10.

The results were delayed beyond the usual mid-September release date because of the work by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) to speed up the Leaving Cert appeals.

In a further break with tradition, the results are coming on a Friday, rather than a Wednesday, which means there is no school tomorrow.

Their publication is accompanied by plenty of advice for parents to remain vigilant to ensure celebrations do not get out of hand, and children avoid alcohol-associated dangers.

Vigilant

The breakdown of results shows uptake in History was down to 88pc this year from a pretty standard 90pc, which may suggest Education Minister Joe McHugh was right to believe that uptake in the subject is at risk from Junior Cycle reform, which offers more choice.

This week, Mr McHugh announced he is making the subject mandatory. Under the reforms, for the first time, students of Science and Business sat their exam at common level, rather than at ordinary or higher level.

By 2022, all subjects, except English, Irish and Maths, will be examined at common level.

Similar to English, which was the first subject to go through the reform process, the Science and Business results are no longer categorised in the ABC style, but on a spectrum ranging from Distinction (minimum 90pc, compared with a minimum 85pc for an A) to No Grade (0-19pc).

Against the trend, June 2020 will usher in four separate exams in Irish, which has been broken into two syllabi, one for Irish-medium schools and one for English-medium schools, each available at higher and ordinary level.

The 2019 exams were also the last outing for Civic Social and Political Education (CSPE), which is being embraced by the new Wellbeing programme.

Welcome

Unrelated to the Junior Cycle reforms, today's results provide evidence of the effect of another big change in the education system.

Numbers taking Maths at higher level continue to climb - up to 59pc from 57pc two years ago and 45pc in 2011. It is now touching the Government target of 60pc, a welcome knock-on from the decision to award 25 CAO bonus points for a minimum 40pc in higher level Maths at Leaving Cert.

The overall number sitting the exam this year, up from 59,521 in 2015, mirrors the continuing surge in post-primary enrolments.

The HSE's AskAboutAlcohol.ie website advises that while young people deserve to celebrate their hard work "it is important for parents to have open conversations about the risks of drinking alcohol".

Dr Bobby Smyth, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with the HSE, said: "It is so important to let your child know that they can always call you, no matter what."

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