Irish Journal of Education, Vol. 21, 1987

VOCATIONALISM IN IRISH SECOND-LEVEL EDUCATION

Mary Lewis and Thomas Kellaghan

Growth in vocationalism in second-level schools in Ireland between the late 1960s and the 1980s is examined in the context of four expressions of such a trend: enrolment in vocational schools, the percentage of students in senior cycle enrolled in vocational courses, the take-up of vocationally-oriented subjects in second-level curricula (expressed by the number taking examinations in the relevant subjects), and the development of programmes to prepare students for employment. Information on these topics is based on Department of Education statistics, project documentation, and published research. Between 1967 and 1982, vocational schools lost their share of junior-cycle students (28.8% in 1967; 24.2% in 1982) but increased considerably their share of senior-cycle students (9.9% in 1967; 23.3% in 1982). The percentage of senior-cycle students taking vocational courses was fairly constant up to 1982 but increased thereafter, particularly in secondary schools. In the Group Certificate examination between 1969 and 1983, nine vocational subjects showed a greater growth and five subjects a lesser growth than the increase in the number of students sitting for the examination (37.8%). In the case of the Intermediate Certificate examination, all vocationally-oriented subjects, with one exception (Home Economics for girls), showed an increase in participation between 1969 and 1983 which was greater than the increase in total numbers taking the examination (82.8% for boys and 73.4% for girls). At Leaving Certificate level, there was an increase between 1971 and 1983 in either male or female participation in all vocationally-oriented subjects which exceeded the overall increase in the numbers taking the examination (106.3% for boys and 115.1% for girls). Numbers enrolled in work- preparation courses have risen considerably since they were introduced in 1977. While these data indicate that there has been an increase in vocationalism in Irish second-level schools, many students are still not involved in any vocationally-oriented subjects and, for most of those who are, the form of vocational education to which they are exposed is very broad (prevocational) rather than specific.
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SOCIAL PERSPECTIVES ON RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN ASSESSMENT AND EXAMINATION PROCEDURES IN FRANCE

Patricia Broadfoot

Recent pressures for greater democracy and opportunity in educational provision in France have resulted in a radical restructuring of the traditionally highly selective and elitist educational system. Among the changes introduced to the system has been examination reform which was instituted in the mid 1970s by Minister for Education René Haby. This reform involved the abolition of a public examination taken at 16 years of age (Brevet d ’Études) and its replacement by a process of continuous assessment and guidance (’orientation’) in schools. Less radical recommendations for change in examinations at 18 + (Baccalauréat) have also been made. The reforms involve postponing selection, making assessment more comprehensive, and giving a greater role to teachers in assessing students. Reactions to the reforms in France and their implications are discussed. It is unlikely that the reforms will have much impact unless greater attention is paid to over all reform strategy and to the ideological and institutional super structure in which changes will have to take place.
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A SURVEY OF TEACHING PRACTICES IN THE JUNIOR GRADES OF IRISH PRIMARY SCHOOLS

Bernard O’Rourke and Peter Archer

A questionnaire to investigate their teaching practices was sent to a representative sample of teachers in junior grades (junior infants, senior infants, first class) in Irish primary schools. Completed questionnaires were received from 581 teachers in 245 schools. In the language area, reading was the activity that received most attention in all three grades. Most children were introduced to a reading scheme within a few months of their initial entry to school and were expected to make fairly rapid progress through the stages of the scheme. Teachers across the three grades devoted progressively more attention to ‘formal’ number activities. Although groups for instructional purposes were formed by most teachers, whole-class teaching was the most favoured teaching strategy employed. Teachers’ opinions about issues and objectives in junior-primary education revealed a discrepancy between what teachers thought should happen in classrooms and what actually happened.
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PAYMENT BY RESULTS: AN ANALYSIS OF A NINETEENTH CENTURY PERFORMANCE-CONTRACTING PROGRAMME

George F Madaus, Joseph P Ryan, Thomas Kellaghan and Peter Wairasian

From 1879 to 1924 a system of Payment by Results, in which schools were paid on the basis of student examination performance, existed in Ireland In this study, data on student achievement in Irish schools are analyzed by means of regression and time series analyses. The results show that when money was instituted as the prime motivation for educational achievement, administrators quickly accorded a balanced budget an important role in administering educational policy.