Irish Journal of Education, Vol. 34, 2003

DECLINE IN THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS TAKING LEAVING CERTIFICATE ACCOUNTING: TEACHERS’ PERSPECTIVES

Marann Byrne and Pauline Willis
Dublin City University Business School

Over the last decade there has been a sharp decrease in the number of students choosing to take Accounting in the Leaving Certificate Examination. In the study described in this paper, teachers’ views on the reasons for this decline were elicited. The main reasons identified were problems with the content and teaching of accounting in the earlier Junior Certificate Business Studies course, perceived difficulty in obtaining high grades, the volume of material to be covered, and active promotion of other subjects, particularly the physical sciences. Implications of the decline for second- and third-level educators and the accounting profession are considered.
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THE NORTHERN IRELAND SELECTIVE SYSTEM: A WIND OF CHANGE

Jacqueline Carlin
University of Ulster, Coleraine

The views of pupils, parents, and teachers involved with the procedure for selection to secondary school in Northern Ireland are reported against the background of prospects for change to the system. Evidence concerning the impact of the transfer procedure is examined, and the alternative system put forward by the Post-Primary Review Body is reviewed. As the current transfer procedure is recognized as being untenable, change is almost guaranteed. However, it is unlikely that the proposals put forward by the Review Body will be readily accepted. Stakeholders are willing to embrace change, but change on their own terms. The most probable course will be a slow shift, in which some stakeholders will be willing to work towards the adoption of the system proposed by the Review Body. If pioneering actions are successful, other stakeholders may move towards its implementation. If actions are judged to be failing, there will be attempts to block reform and ‘stick with what we know’. At the heart of the debate lies the challenge of striking a balance between making provision for high achievement and social inclusion for all pupils.
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INTEGRATED PRIMARY SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Dolores Loughrey, Sonia Kidd, and Jacqueline Carlin
University of Ulster, Coleraine

The practice of community relations in schools in Northern Ireland was investigated in interviews with principals and teachers in controlled integrated primary schools (CI schools which were previously attended and staffed by those from a Protestant background but which have now taken up the option to ‘transform’ to integrated status and so cater for all children whatever their religious persuasion) and in grant maintained integrated primary schools (GMI schools which were established specifically to facilitate the education of all children together, whatever their religious persuasion). The following topics were investigated in the two types of school in the study reported in this paper: involvement in community relations activities with other schools and within schools; the perceived relationships between a community relations agenda and the traditional educational functions of the school; the effect of the religious background of children on teachers and teaching; and problems of sectarianism and prejudice. The evidence suggests that community relations practices are more substantial and sophisticated in GMI schools than in CI schools.
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ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PROVISION IN NORTHERN IRELAND: CONSOLIDATION, CONSTRUCTION, AND CENTRALIZATION IN COUNTY DOWN, 1925-33

George Beale
Department of History, Stranmillis University College, Belfast

The problem of school provision was a principal concern of the newly-constituted local education authorities in Northern Ireland after partition. The County Down Regional Education Committee as a single-county authority aimed to ameliorate the situation it inherited from the Commissioners for National Education by introducing schemes to amalgamate schools, improve existing premises, and construct new buildings. Efforts made by the authority during the early years of its existence are examined and assessed in light of the contemporary legislation. Difficulties – which were inevitable – included the multiplicity of small schools, parental opposition, the transfer of schools, the formation of school committees, and finance.
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A STUDY OF PARENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN GAELSCOILEANNA

Brian Mac Giolla Phádraig
Scoil na gCeithre Máistrí, Ath Luain

In the study described in this paper the extent to which differences exist between parents in gaelscoileanna and parents in mainstream primary schools in their valuation and perception of parental involvement was investigated. The study was based on a national sample of primary schools in which information was obtained on attitudes and perceptions towards parental involvement in three areas (provision of information, parental access, and parental involvement in policy formation). The main difference between parents of children attending gaelscoileanna and parents of children attending mainstream primary schools were found to be in their perceptions of their levels of involvement in matters of school organization and management. Differences between these two cohorts of parents were not evident when child-based or class/teacher-based issues were examined.
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TOBACCO, ALCOHOL, AND DRUG MISUSE IN TWO GARDA DIVISIONS

Kiran Sarma, Mary Walker, William Ryan, & Colm Browne
Garda Research Unit, Templemore, County Tipperary

The extent of tobacco, alcohol, and drug misuse among second-level students in the Kerry and Waterford/Kilkenny Garda Divisions was assessed in a 65-item self-report questionnaire administered in a classroom setting to 3,094 5th (pre-leaving certificate) Year and 2nd Year students attending 31 schools. Results were largely in line with the findings of similar research conducted in other administrative regions. Almost one-quarter (24%) of respondents had smoked cigarettes at least once a week in the 30 days preceding administration of the questionnaire and 32% had been drunk during that period. Over a quarter (28%) reported that they had wanted to take drugs at some stage in the past, and 23% had actually done so. Curiosity (63%), the induced ‘high’ (28%), and a desire to forget personal problems (10%) were the main motivations behind first-time drug use.
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