FOR THE FIRST time this afternoon about 900 Leaving Cert students sat an exam in Politics and Society, a new subject which was introduced in 41 participating pilot schools in September 2016.
The exam was available at Higher and Ordinary Level and was 2.5 hours long, divided into three sections.
The exam itself was worth 80% of the studentsâ marks for the subject while 20% of their overall total was marked in April in the form of a research project.
The subject includes areas like power and decision making; active citizenship; human rights and responsibilities; and globalisation and localisation.
The subject is now being rolled out nationally (you can access todayâs exams here).
What was on the exam?
Section A of the Higher Level paper asked students to address ten short answer questions, which included the following:
- Is the election process to Seanad Ăireann a democratic process?
- Is it possible to talk about a shared Irish identity in Ireland today?
- Name two consequences of income inequalities in Ireland on an individualâs life chances.
In Section B students were asked to read a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a TrĂłcaire report on climate change.
They were asked to draw from both documents and formulate a response to a quote from Mary Robinson that âClimate change is the greatest threat to human rights in the 21st centuryâ.
Section C, which was worth half of the examâs marks, asked students to write two essays from a choice of six.
They included one based on a tweet sent during Leo Varadkarâs Fine Gael leadership campaign (below), one on inequality in the Irish education system, and one on the effects of Trumpâs âAmerica Firstâ policy.
Section A of the Ordinary Level paper asked students to
- Outline the role of Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children in Ireland.
- Name two human rights organisations in Ireland. Describe the work of one of these organisations.
- Explain the term âpatriarchyâ. Give an example of patriarchy in society today.
Section B asked those taking the exam to read part of a Focus Ireland report and one on the Dublin Region Homeless Executiveâs rough sleeper count and formulate a response.
The essay section asked for students to write about people using their public profiles for social impact, gender inequality in Ireland, ethnic identity in global development, childrens issues or local initiatives.
What was the reaction like?Â
Christian Jones-Hickey, a student at The Kingâs Hospital school in Palmerstown, described the Higher Level paper as fair and âbetter than the mocksâ.
Malahide Community School student Jessee Mooney said she would recommend the subject to anyone âwilling to put in the work, because itâs not an easy subjectâ.
Politics and Society teacher Joanne Stapleton of St Maryâs College in Arklow said that her 20 students took a âmassive riskâÂ in signing up for a subject without set content in the form of a book, past exam papers or marking scheme.
Despite the challenges Stapleton said her students are now âself directed learners and critical, independent thinkersâ. They enjoyed visits from local TDs and MEPs as part of their studies.
Commenting on the Ordinary Level paper Bairbre Kennedy ofÂ Malahide Community School said the paper achieved the aim of the course in promoting âreflective and active citizensâ.
Dr EilĂs Ward of the Politics and Sociology Department at NUI Galway saidÂ the exam âlays a very good foundationâ for young people to appreciate the significance of politics. She described the exams as being âvery contemporaryâ.
Sample papers were provided to students prior to the exam and the chairperson of the Politics and Society Teachers Association of Ireland Â Dr Jerome DevittÂ said that paper âdidnât wander too farâ from the sample, which was of benefit to students.
He added that heâd like to issue âan open challengeâ to any politician to sit the paper, adding that the association will âgladly grade itâ.