Leaving Cert politics & society: A pandemic-focused paper as students re-enter society

Questions on higher-level paper were clear and fair, say teachers

The politics and society paper was strong, topical and focused on the pandemic, teachers have said.

Paul McAndrew and Dr Jerome Devitt, politics and society teachers at the Institute of Education in Dublin, said that the questions on higher-level paper were clear and fair, covering various aspects of the course.

“Students needed to adapt their knowledge to questions across the paper - learnt-off essays would have been of little use,” they said.

“In a world where there is a lot of misinformation, this subject gives students the tools to try and figure out what truth actually is.”


Brendan Greene, TUI subject representative and a teacher at St Clare’s Comprehensive in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, said that any student who followed current affairs would be in a strong position.

“There was a very thought-provoking and to-the-point question on equality of opportunity in education,” Mr Greene said.

“There were a lot of questions on Covid-19 and the pandemic, including what constitutes reliable information and the importance of press freedom.”

Mr McAndrew and Dr Devitt said that the document questions were “more dense” than in previous years and that students would have needed the extra time allocated in his exam to read and re-read them.

“The questions were straightforward and required the student to critically analyse the two documents,” they said.

“The questions focused on the documents provided, unlike other years, where question G normally asks students to bring in external knowledge to answer the question.

Question three, on the social contract, was nice and topical and similar to questions on previous papers.

Question seven, on the gender pay gap, was topical and challenging, and really required students to think and adapt their knowledge to their answer.”

Mr Greene was critical of the ordinary level paper, however.

“It was not nearly as topical as the higher level paper,” he said.

“It didn’t reflect the pandemic experience of the students, except in question 1(q), which was very short. Question ten, on how a young person’s circumstances can shape their education and life, had a lot of verbiage for ordinary level students. I think the paper was off the ball.”


During the COVID-19 pandemic, as governments have scrambled to protect their populations, many human rights and civil liberties taken for granted have been restricted or taken away.

Discuss the challenge for governments of maintaining the balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the majority in a democratic country.

(Your answer should include contemporary examples and evidence to support your argument. You should also refer to the ideas of two theorists, at least one of whom must be named on your course.)