It is the nature of the Irish examination system that results can and do vary from year to year and from subject to subject.
At junior certificate, I was pleased to note that civic, social and political education was taken by the full cohort for the first time and over 80% of the students obtained a grade C or higher on a common level paper. The improvement in performance of candidates in science at ordinary level reflects in part changes in the format of the exam paper which were designed to make it more accessible to candidates. The grades in foundation level Irish are significantly up on 1998 and 1999 and reflect more closely the grading patterns prior to 1998.
I have recently received a report of a working party on junior certificate Irish, ordinary and foundation level, set up in late 1999 and I intend to publish this report shortly. This report will contribute to a review of Irish at second level about to be undertaken by the NCCA.
I welcome the fact that the leaving certificate applied and the leaving certificate vocational programmes were taken by 23% of the student cohort, The results at leaving certificate level showed some upward variations particularly in the % who obtained a grade C or better at higher level in history, art and economic history and downward variation in mathematics and there was a decrease in many instances in the % who failed to obtain a grade D or better at either level. With my recent decision to introduce revised syllabi in home economics and biology from 2001, curriculum support teams will be put in place for these subjects shortly to assist teachers. A curriculum support team is already in place for the new mathematics syllabus at junior certificate level which will be examined in 2003.