Leaving Cert history: questions on Thatcher and 1913 Lockout

Wide-ranging paper was expected but searching, teachers say

More than 12,000 students who sat Leaving Cert history found topics that were expected but searching, say teachers.

"There was a nice start to the paper with a document question on Katanga – students were expecting to see this and the cartoon was obvious, the document straightforward," said Tony Forrestal of the TUI.

As the paper developed, however, the questions became more searching, according to Mr Forrestal. “Most teachers cover the same two periods in Irish history: movements for social and political reform from 1870 to 1914 and pursuit of sovereignty and the impact of Partition from 1912 to 1949.

“The questions on these topics seemed relatively straightforward but became more challenging as you went along. You wouldn’t be able to bluff your way through.”

The 100th anniversary of the 1913 Lockout was acknowledged with a question on the event, as was the death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in April this year.

Beyond the favoured topics there were some “very nice” questions on Daniel O’Connell among others.

“Perhaps the examiners are sending a message to teachers that we should take in a broader range of topics,” Mr Forrestal said.

Fintan O’Mahony, subject representative for the ASTI, also liked the paper. “We had a very positive response from students; the document question on the Congo was a favourite. There was no trickery, no attempt to catch students out on this exam.”

Teachers also praised liberal opportunities provided for students to argue their case through “interesting and thoughtful questions”.

The ordinary level paper was a “lovely paper with loads of choices”.

“If you knew your case studies and personalities, you were fine,” Mr Forrestal added.

“One gripe; the document at the back looked like a very bad photocopy.”