Leaving Cert results: Mixed bag of emotions at Ballyfermot school

Regardless of results, finishing an achievement for many, says Dublin DEIS principal

Erin McGuire talks to students at St John’s College in Ballyfermot in Dublin about their Leaving Cert results.

 

It was a mixed bag of emotions this morning at St John’s College in Dublin as students trickled in to collect their Leaving Cert results.

There were sixty-four Leaving Cert students and 16 Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) students at the school this year.

The results were available online at noon, but students began arriving at the Ballyfermot school before 9am to collect them in person.

The first group of young men sat in the waiting room and were called into the principal’s office one by one to get their results in a brown envelope.

They had agreed to wait and open the envelopes together, but Cane Rooney Grogan (18) from Ballyfermot took a sneaky peak beforehand. “It was stressful, but in the end I think it went ok,” said Cane, whose results exceeded his expectations.

He plans to study computing at the National College of Ireland in the autumn, which is something both he and his parents wanted. He will be the first person in his family to go to “proper university”. He credits his guidance counsellor Ms English for motivating him through his school years.

But not everyone at the school was so excited. Fejiro Uzuazoraro (16) from Tallaght was deciding whether to repeat the year only minutes after opening his envelope. He was sure he did not get enough points for his first choice course: science at University College Dublin (UCD). “[Science is] what I always wanted, so I’m prepared to put in the work for it,” he said.

His parents, Nigerian immigrants, are eager for him to go to college. His father, an accountant, had to give up work after he was diagnosed with cancer in October. He’s recovering, but he was sick throughout Fejiro’s Leaving Cert year. Fejiro said he was worried all year . He is confident that if he does repeat the Leaving Cert next year, he’ll be “grand” because he’ll be able to focus on the exams.

According to principal Ann Marie Leonard, finishing the Leaving Cert is an achievement, regardless of results.

“A lot of our students are coming from an area where there’s extreme disadvantage in their communities, so their achievements are to be celebrated really,” she said.

St John’s College is part of the DEIS programme which prioritises the needs of children in disadvantaged communities.

According to a recent report by the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute), only 50 per cent of students in working class schools applied for higher education. It also found that students from working-class schools are more dependent on career guidance counselors for advice than students in middle-class schools.

At St John’s College, every Leaving Cert and Leaving Cert Applied student has a course lined up for next year. Ms Leonard, who has worked at the school for nineteen years, said this is a change. In the past, students wouldn’t necessarily have had a plan in place.

She said the school’s guidance programme starts in 3rd year, and students are strongly encouraged to choose and apply for courses after school. The programme “is hugely important” to the kids, especially if they are first generation college-goers, as many of the students are. Guidance counsellors help the students with form-filling and navigating all the options available.

“The programme also tries to give them the confidence that they can go to college. It’s a self esteem issue—feeling like college is for me, and I’ll be able to fit in there and get on well,” she said.

For those students not thrilled with their results, Ms Leonard had a message of hope. “There is something for everybody, regardless of what you get on your Leaving Cert. You still have options.”