Junior Cycle English exam


Sir, – Approximately 60,000 young people will sit their Junior Cycle English examination next week. 

For this two-hour test at higher level, pupils are typically required to write 10 short responses into boxes and complete five multiple-choice questions. This is the national assessment of the English and literacy skills these children have developed since starting to read 11 years previously. Yet the Department of Education and Skills (through the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) states that the ethos of the syllabus is that students “engage personally and think critically” in relation to material presented to them.

English is afforded less time in the terminal exam and consequently offers our pupils less scope for engagement and depth of analysis than any other subject, except for common-level Civic Social and Political Education (CSPE).

Who’d have ever thought “thinking critically” could be so quick and easy? – Yours, etc,