The reaction from schools in Inishowen to this week’s Leaving Certificate results is one of delight.
According to the Principal of Buncrana’s Crana College, Liam Galbraith, on Wednesday morning there was ‘great excitement, lots of nervous energy and, thankfully, tears of joy and relief this morning’.
Mr. Galbraith went on: “I am extremely pleased and proud of the achievements of this year’s Leaving Certificate students, not to mention the hard work of their teachers. There are many remarkable performances among our high achievers, several students have scored 500 points or more.
“Once again we have surpassed the national average in the core subjects of Maths, Irish and English, and to give just one example, there is a 100% pass rate at Higher level Maths with an overall 99% pass rate at both Higher and Ordinary. This is a wonderful achievement.
Carndonagh Community School principal, Paul Fiorentini, remarked: “The sun shone both metaphorically and literally this morning. All the children I talked to got what they wanted - or near enough. One or two might have to wait a week or so for re-checks but they were all happy with their results.”
He went on: “Children in Inishowen are as bright, as talented and have as much ability as students anywhere in the world. There should be nothing to stop them achieving their goals in life.”
For those who might not be entirely happy Mr Fiorentini suggested there were still plenty of options available.
“There are any number of second chances for students now. Some kids might not have the belief in themselves now but a few years down the line that could change.
“Indeed, I would contend there are people I know who don’t blossom academically until after they do their Leaving. It’s almost as if fear of the exam inhibits them. Once they get it out of the way and examine what they done many realise and say to themselves ‘I could have done a lot better than that.’
“People can opt out of education for a couple of years and come back in and go again.
“The Leaving Certificate is a brutal examination but it is a rite of passage for so many. I was so happy this morning to see so many happy, fulfilled students. I now hope they get the opportunity to reach their potential and get the opportunity to develop their talents to the maximum
At Buncrana’s Scoil Mhuire, Rosaleen Grant was equally upbeat.
She said: “We are very, very happy with what we have achieved. Scoil Mhuire has reflected pretty much the national trend with a good improvement in maths. A number of our students have attained well over 500 points and we are delighted for them. The bonus of 25 points for Higher Maths has been a factor here but the results also reflect a lot of hard work.
While accepting that there were economic difficulties for students and their families Ms Grant said there was a challenge for students now to find route to Third Level.
But there are options available and the Buncrana teacher was adamant:‘Dont despair - there are plenty of options out there.”
She explained: “There are definitely more students now qualifying for maintenance grants because their parents are out of work. There is also HEAR - the Higher Education Access Route - which provides access for some students who have less points to maintenance funding.”
“We are also on the border with the North where fees have not risen. That could be a good option for many
“In addition LYIT in Letterkenny have come on board this year with a whole raft of excellent new courses - really, really good - and these should be explored by pupils here. Sligo College of Technology is also a very, very good option