Junior Cert business studies: Fair papers on an outdated syllabus

Letter of advice on insurance and enterprise among the exam questions

The Junior Cert business syllabus needs an update, according to teachers. Higher-level business students sat two papers, while ordinary-level students sat one.

A question on higher-level paper one, which required students to write "a letter of advice" to a friend about household insurance, was described as "very dated" by Joe Moran, a business teacher at Presentation College in Ballingarry, Co Tipperary.

“It’s odd that they’re still asking young people to write in a letter format. It’s a real example of where the examiners are falling behind, as though young people would ask for a written letter of advice. There would have been better, more relevant ways of presenting this question.”

He suggested students could have been asked to write a reply to a Facebook post.


Accounting and business

He also said there was still not enough economics on the syllabus, which is dominated by accounting and business.

The draft of a new syllabus is on the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment website but it is not clear if or when it will be introduced.

The curriculum size means it is the only non-compulsory Junior Cert subject where students have to take two papers.

“There probably shouldn’t be two, but it’s a relic of the times,” Mr Moran said. “There’s a lot for teachers to cover for at Junior Cert level.”

Overall, he said, the higher- level paper one was “more or less as normal”, although he suggested students could have been given more choice in the short questions on paper one.

Teachers' Union of Ireland representative and business teacher Denise Staunton agreed, saying it was a fair paper combining elements of literacy and numeracy that gave students a chance to shine.


She said her students were “happy and untroubled” by the higher level paper two, although it was, as expected, “not a forgiving paper to the unprepared”.

The ordinary level paper was described by both teachers as “very fair”, although Ms Staunton said one question on economics could have appeared at higher level.