…..but they’re going to scrap it. They are going to replace it with something called the Junior Cycle Student Award – a very stupid name.

Junior Cert

My son is taking the junior Cert this year. It’s hard enough to get him to do his homework and study for his exams without him knowing that they are going to scrap it anyway. I don’t think he knows.

Instead of an exam they are going to have continuous appraisal by the teacher which has the obvious problems.

Bad Idea

As long as they are assessing written tests that would be OK. However, if the teachers are assessing them by giving their opinion on how the children are doing in the classroom that would be a very bad idea.

It favours outgoing children who are not afraid to speak out and ask questions over introverted children who clam up when the teacher asks them a question in class.

Higher Class

I remember when I was sitting my Highers, the Scottish equivalent of the Leaving Certs. Both my teacher and the headmaster wanted me to drop Maths at the half way stage.

Schools want as high a percentage of their pupils taking the exams to pass them as it makes the school look good – so they try to get children who they think will fail to drop the subject.

Stood Ground

I stood my ground, though. Luckily, I’d seen in thee Sunday Post the weekend before that they couldn’t stop you sitting it if you insisted. So I insisted.

The headmaster asked me why I wanted to sit it and I told him that I thought I’d pass it which annoyed him a great deal.

He insisted that I got my father to write a letter that he would keep when the education authorities asked why he let a guy, who failed so miserably,  sit they exam.

He said he would be laughing when he saw my bones lying in a heap in the corner (a strange expression that I had never hear before or since).


I got an A in Maths. My first trip to the headmaster’s office after that was quite pleasant.

But, instead of doing an exam if I had been assessed by the teacher or headmaster, how do you think I would have done?

I always did better in exams than my teachers thought I would. Perhaps I look stupid. I don’t know.


So, that’s the problem if teachers are assessing classroom performance. Those from richer homes have more confidence and sound better in class than those from working class homes.

An assessment would give them a higher mark than they deserve.

With a written exam, everyone is equal.