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15% of Leaving Cert points should be attributed to sports, extra-curriculars and social causes – O’Reilly

4th November 2021 - Senator Joe O'Reilly

Leaving Certificate reform should include a change to the grading system whereby 15% of points are attributed to students’ involvement in sports, extra-curricular activities, and social causes, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Cavan-Monaghan Senator Joe O’Reilly has said that an emphasis needs to be placed on sporting, cultural and civic activities within secondary schools and students who participate in such areas should be awarded through a reformed Leaving Cert points system.

Senator O’Reilly, a former teacher, said, “I agree with my colleague Minister Simon Harris’ recent comments that the current Leaving Cert system does not prepare our students for life beyond the classroom. Our definition of education must be expanded to encompass students’ passions for sports, music, volunteering, and other activities which contribute to their rounded personal development.

“A reform of the Leaving Cert is urgently needed and should be reflected in significant changes to the points system. Under our current system, 100% of a student’s final grades are based on academics. Yet many students spend countless hours outside of the classroom playing sports, volunteering in their local communities, learning new skills and much more.

“As a society, we value our culture, sports and communities. We now need to reflect this in our grading system and move beyond the current points race. I believe that 15% of a student’s Leaving Cert points should come from their involvement in three key areas; sports, extra-curricular activities, and social causes to include volunteering and participation in civic duties.

“The benefits of such a change would be two-fold; the new system would benefit students who are not purely interested in academic studies and it would also incentivise students who might not otherwise be involved in activities outside of the classroom to find causes and hobbies of interest to them.

“As Minister Harris said this week, our students must be equipped with the skills to prepare them for the fast-paced world we now live in. We need to ensure young people are given every opportunity to explore their talents in technology, ICT, science and language and incentivise them to discover these areas both inside and outside the classroom.

“A particular emphasis should be put on involvement with social causes in students’ local communities. This would see an increase in young people volunteering with local charities and working with community groups which would be of huge societal value.

“Our young people have so much to offer outside of the classroom, with many already involved in a range of fantastic activities. We need to create space for students’ passions and skills within our schools, and award them through a new and progressive points system,” Senator O’Reilly concluded.

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