'Modern and fair' construction paper tests students on sustainable design


LEAVING CERT CONSTRUCTION STUDIES:SUSTAINABLE DESIGN, environmental awareness – construction studies students would have needed to know all about modern techniques and practices if they were to do well in the written part of their exam yesterday afternoon.

“The paper has developed a much more modern feel over the past three years,” said ASTI representative Noel Scott, who teaches in Loreto Community School in Milford, Co Donegal.

“There’s a really welcome focus on the principles and practices of sustainable design for example.”

The written exam is worth 50 per cent of students’ overall mark as they have already completed a project, worth 25 per cent, and a one-day practical for the remaining 25 per cent.

Higher-level students should have been happy with a paper that was fair, although not without its challenges.

“There was a good balance of sketches and writing in the paper,” Scott said.

Questions were very topical. Many contained at least a section on some area of environmentally-friendly construction such as insulation or sustainable design.

A question on the redesign and upgrade of a house was good, according to Scott, as was another on mechanical heat recovery and ventilation of a home.

“It was very topical,” Scott said.

More traditional aspects, such as a question on the workings of a septic tank, also turned up.

“I think the way the higher-level paper has been modernised is actually really good for the subject,” Scott said. “It was a good paper overall.”

The paper at ordinary level had a more traditional feel. It examined areas such as roofing, wheelchair accessibility, plumbing and safety in construction.

“It was pitched well, I thought,” Scott said.

Of the almost 8,500 students who sat the paper yesterday, just 500 were girls. Numbers taking the subject have fallen by about 7 per cent since 2009.

It is a relatively tough subject in which to get an A grade – just under 9 per cent of higher-level students managed it last year – but the honours rate is reasonably high at 84 per cent.