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Minister O’Sullivan congratulates Leaving Certificate students receiving exam results today

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan today congratulated the 56,990 Leaving Certificate students who are receiving their results today.

This year saw an overall increase of 1,413 students sitting the exams, from 55,577 in 2013 to 56,990 in 2014. Subjects which saw notable increases in the number of students sitting papers were Physics (11%) and Spanish (9%). The continuing increase in the number of students taking Higher Level Maths at Leaving Certificate is particularly welcome – the proportion of students taking the Higher Level option has now increased from 16% in 2011, to 27% this year.

Completing secondary school and the Leaving Certificate is a milestone in many people’s lives. Every student should be proud of their achievement. Today is the culmination of much hard work and sacrifice and I hope that the effort students made is reflected in their results.

Students now have the opportunity to choose which path they want to take next. There are a wide range of opportunities available in higher education, further education and in many other fields. It is an exciting time for young people and I would urge them to consider their options carefully and give 100% to whatever path they choose to follow next.

The Leaving Certificate is of course associated with young people completing a vital phase of their lives. However, there are also a significant number of people who return to education, particularly through the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme. Some 767 adults sat the Leaving Cert in this category, and I would like to recognise their tremendous dedication and courage.”

As the new Minister for Education and Skills I would also like to express my particular gratitude to our teachers and other staff across the education system for their commitment in helping students prepare for these challenging exams. Students receiving their results today will, in ten, twenty or thirty years, still remember the positive impact on their lives and careers that teachers had.

There will be some students who have not received the grades they had hoped for. It is important for all students to consider all options in the coming weeks. There are many excellent opportunities available, including many Level 5 and Level 6 programmes in the further education sector. They provide high quality training for specific careers or can be an alternative route to higher education for those who wish to go to college or university. Take your time and ensure that you have information on all the options available to you.

Most students receiving their results today will be take the traditional CAO route to college or university. The transition from second level to higher education is a key life bridge for young people. I am awaiting the report on the outcomes of the Transitions Reform Group. One of the important issues under consideration is the merit of significantly reducing the number of courses for broader undergraduate entry. In essence this may mean that students of engineering for instance undertake a broad engineering course in first year before deciding on a speciality such as civil or mechanical engineering.

These ideas are being considered with a focus on reducing the stress on students making this key transition. I look forward to receiving the report by the end of this year.

She concluded by saying:

Today is a time for celebration with your families and friends. Enjoy your celebrations but take care of each other. I wish the class of 2014 the very best of luck in your next steps, be it progressing to college, university, training or employment. Today is primarily about exam results, but the secondary school experience is about so much more. The friendship and bonds that people form at secondary school can last a lifetime. In the years to come those friendships may well prove as important as today’s results.