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‘Safety net’ would encourage more students to stick to higher level

Fine Gael TD for Cork East, David Stanton, has said that today’s Leaving Cert results show that a second chance system should be introduced for maths, which could save students who fail the subject from missing out on getting into college.

“As thousands of students across the country anxiously receive their Leaving Cert results today, yet again the most striking trend to emerge is the high failure rate in maths and science. More than 4,300 students have failed maths, and as a result may loose out on many third level courses.

“A number of colleges, such as Waterford IT, the University of Limerick and NUIG, have begun to introduce a ‘second chance’ approach to maths and have indicated that they will allow certain students who have failed the subject to sit it again before the beginning of the college year. This is an encouraging and progressive approach, and it is one that should be rolled out nationally.

“If we are serious about cementing our position as a country that can offer highly skilled graduates, we cannot ignore this problem. Maths is essential for a wide range of high-end sectors, including R&D and technology. The number of students taking the subject at higher level has been consistently falling in recent years. We need to reverse this trend. Figures released to me show that one in five students who studied the higher level course dropped down to pass maths on the day of the exam last year. But who could blame a student for not taking the risk, if failing honours maths means they would miss out on their desired college course?

“I believe that rolling out the second chance system for maths would encourage more students to take the subject at higher level. While initiatives such as Project Maths and bonus points for higher level maths are welcome, they clearly aren’t going far enough. Among the 1,900 students who took Project Maths this year, only 16% sat the subject at higher level. This is the exact same figure as those who studied the mainstream maths course.

“We need to take action over the coming school year to push more third level institutions to offer a safety net for maths students and I intend to raise the issue again with the Minister for Education during the coming Dáil term.”