Leaving Cert Applied numbers drop 13%
Suggestion decline may be due to increased pupil-teacher ratios
Gerard Craughwell: “It is worrying that an important alternative pathway for students to gain a second-level qualification is reducing.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The number of students taking the Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) exam has fallen by 13 per cent since 2012, according to figures from the State Examinations Commission. The vocationally oriented programme is aimed at students who may not want to proceed to college or who are not quite suited to the traditional Leaving Cert.
Gerard Craughwell, president of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland, suggested the fall in numbers from 3,228 in 2012 to 2,805 this year may be due to increased pupil-teacher ratios and other cuts at second level, which could cause some schools to drop their LCA programme.
“It is worrying that an important alternative pathway for students to gain a second-level qualification is reducing,” he said.
The LCA is a resource-intensive programme which requires ongoing assessment of relatively small student numbers. Just under 54 per cent of the LCA cohort are boys.
Although there are anecdotal reports from teachers and unions that the LCA is under strain, many schools have committed to retaining the programme.
A recent OECD report suggested links between low levels of youth unemployment and countries with relatively high numbers of second-level graduates from vocationally oriented education programmes, said Mr Craughwell.
He added that the Irish education system should ensure schools “have an appropriate suite of subjects to cater for the interests and talents of all students, including those with the ambition of entering the labour market or undertaking an apprenticeship”.
Twenty per cent of LCA students were awarded a distinction, while 49 per cent received a merit and 17 per cent passes.