Dáil Éireann - Volume 421 - 25 June, 1992

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Leaving Certificate Mathematics Papers.

1. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education the reason three questions 4, 7 and 8 on the Leaving Certificate Ordinary Alternative mathematics Paper II contained material and a style of questioning which was explicitly excluded in the published syllabus; the reason such departures from the syllabus are permitted; whether his Department have a duty to ensure that examinations and syllabi are, within reason, in accordance with each other.

Minister for Education (Mr. S. Brennan): In the setting of examination papers every effort is made to ensure that the examination will conform to the content of the relevant syllabus. The material for each part of the three questions referred to is specifically mentioned in the appropriate syllabus and cannot, [1427] therefore, be construed as being outside of what is prescribed.

The point raised by the Deputy has been made to my Department by one of the teacher unions. In accordance with normal practice the views of the organisations representing managers and teachers will be taken fully into account in the devising of the marking schemes for each examination. Regard will be had to any difficulties of a general nature arising for candidates in particular questions.

Mr. Deenihan: I am sure the Minister will agree it is important that questions in examination papers deal specifically with what is contained in the syllabus provided by the Department. In this case this has obviously not happened. Does the Minister agree that as a result a number of students could fail their Leaving Certificate examination? This should not be allowed happen again and will the Minister take every possible precaution to ensure it will not?

Mr. S. Brennan: I agree that we should not put pupils under any unnecessary pressure but the material for each part of the three questions referred to is specifically mentioned in the appropriate syllabus. It cannot be construed as being outside of what was prescribed. I have given a commitment that the marking conferences and marking schemes will take into account the difficulties some students had with what they perceived as being matters which were outside the syllabus. I cannot accept that pupils will fail just because of this.

Mr. Deenihan: I am sure the Minister would agree that if questions are not based on the syllabus prescribed by the Department it will lead to chaos within the schools and to frustration among teachers, pupils and parents. It is very important that questions are based on the syllabus.

An Ceann Comhairle: I asked for brevity.

[1428] Mr. Deenihan: Could the Minister confirm that in this case there were only veiled references to the appropriate subject matter contained in those questions in the alternative paper?

Mr. S. Brennan: Of course questions should only deal with matters on the syllabus. I make every effort to ensure that that is always the case. I will draw that to the attention of the officials again. In this case the material for each part of three questions was specifically mentioned. The way to deal with this matter now is to look to the marking conferences and those marking the papers to take account of the difficulties which some students had in this matter.