Ask Brian: I want to be a primary teacher but I’m worried about oral Irish

Anxiety is normal. Intensify your preparation over the coming weeks

Anxiety ahead of an exam is normal, so intensify your prepartion over the coming weeks. Photo: iStock

Anxiety ahead of an exam is normal, so intensify your prepartion over the coming weeks. Photo: iStock


I want to be a primary school teacher, but the fact that I took ordinary level Irish in my Leaving a few years ago ruled it out. This year, I decided to sit the higher level paper and am getting support from an Irish teacher. The orals are coming up and I’m not sure I’m ready. Should I postpone until next year?

Your desire to enter training as a primary school teacher is one shared by the brightest and the best of our school leavers. For that reason, the academic entry requirements are quite high and I do not anticipate that they will be any lower this year. In that case, a score of 480-plus CAO points would be required to be confident of securing a place in one of our teacher education programmes.

The points you secured in 2012 will be amended by the CAO to reflect the new grading and points system introduced in August 2017, and applied retrospectively to all previous Leaving Certs from that date.

Regarding your anxiety over the forthcoming Irish exam , I would encourage you to intensify your preparation over the coming weeks and months. The grade you will require to meet the minimum entry requirement for primary teaching is about to increase, if you don’t secure an offer of a place in 2018.

Following a decision by the Minister for Education in September 2017, students sitting the Leaving Cert in Irish in 2018 will only require a H5 (50-59 per cent) grade to meet the minimum entry requirement, along with an O5 (50-59 percent) in English and an O6 (40-49 per cent) in maths.

This is, in fact, a reduction of 5 per cent on the previous requirement when you took the Leaving Cert in 2012, when a C3 (55-59 per cent) was the minimum entry requirement for Irish.

This concession of a reduced entry requirement in Irish is only being allowed for one year, so as not to disadvantage any students who took higher level Irish at the beginning of fifth year in September 2016, who expected that the entry requirement for primary school teaching would not increase during the two years of their Leaving Cert programme.

There is a widely respected convention not to increase entry requirements for any course without giving two years notice.

From Leaving Cert 2019 onwards, the minimum entry requirements for Irish, English and maths are all increasing . If you delay taking your exam until 2019, you will then require a H4 (60-69 per cent) grade in Irish, an O4 (60-69 per cent) in English and maths.

At higher level the H7 (30-39 per cent) grade remains in place in 2018 for both English and maths, which might give cause for concern to some as rather low, for those expected to teach the next generation of our children.