My Leaving: ‘I haven’t opened a book and I’m not sorry’

Working towards the Leaving Cert Applied meant much of the work was done in class

Jade Simpson is a student at Carndonagh Community School

Jade Simpson is a student at Carndonagh Community School


I haven’t opened a book and I’m not sorry.

People jolt when they hear that, but there is a good reason: most of the work for the Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) is done in class and we are so well-prepared that there isn’t a huge need for extensive exam preparation.

Back in second year I found the larger classes were hard to work in. I moved into the Junior Cert Schools Programme (JCSP), where the curriculum is more suited to our needs, and I found it so much easier to learn. I skipped Transition Year because, at the time, I thought I wanted out of school as soon as possible, but part of me wishes I hadn’t. As for leaving school, I have mixed feelings: it’s both daunting and exciting.

One of the main reasons I chose the LCA is because of the smaller class sizes and the diversity of subjects, including hair and beauty, English and communication and IT. There was work experience too, and I got jobs out of both placements, including childcare in a playschool and in SuperValu, where I’m still working. I think that the mainstream Leaving Cert, if it is being reformed, needs to look at what we do for the LCA.

There’s also a lot of project work and we were taken out on more than a few occasions, including to a car rally. One of the best LCA modules was a driving programme, which is particularly important given the high accident rate among young drivers in Donegal. What’s behind it? Some young people on the road can be careless and they don’t fully grasp what can go wrong until it’s too late. The class we did taught us to know ourselves better and to be more familiar with the road.

I can’t wait to get behind the wheel. I have my provisional licence and will start lessons soon. When you’re in a relatively isolated area such as Carndonagh, a car becomes a necessity. I’m taking a year out to work and then looking at a course in childcare, probably in Derry or Letterkenny. Let’s hope I’m not stopped at the Border crossings.

Will Brexit bring a hard border? The truth is that I haven’t been following events and it’s not really on my radar. And long may it stay that way.

Jade Simpson is a student at Carndonagh Community School. This year’s student exam diaries are now concluded. Check back in August to see how our diarists got on and what’s next for them.