Increased science and foreign language uptake welcomed by school principals

  • National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) welcomes the increase in students taking STEM subjects and modern European languages
  • Increase in higher level Irish students ‘adds impetus’ to spoken language
  • Promotion of science subjects in education to reflect future job opportunities reaps benefits

As thousands receive their Leaving Certificate results this morning, the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) has welcomed the increased number of students taking science and foreign language subjects in their senior school cycle.

This year, 19% and 12% more students sat Higher Level Physics and Chemistry Leaving Certificate papers respectively, compared to 2013. The NAPD also noted the modest increase in the number of students sitting Higher Level French, German and Spanish.

NAPD also noted the increase the number of students taking higher level Irish – 7% on last year, and 16.5% on 2013. The increase follows recent reforms which awards increased marks in the Irish oral exam, bringing ‘an added impetus’ on the spoken language, said NAPD.

Clive Byrne, Director of the NAPD, said “the combined efforts of Government policy and effective teaching have had tangible effects on the uptake of both STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and foreign language learning.”

“STEM in particular has immeasurable worth to this new generation of school leavers. Ireland’s digital economy is burgeoning, but a lack of tech skills means talent is imported from abroad to fill the sector’s 6,000 vacancies,” Mr Byrne said.

“This is now beginning to change. Continued investment in and promotion of a STEM-focused curriculum by policymakers and educators will only bring further long-term benefits to our children.


“The fact that our future generations are increasingly equipped with strong language and communication skills is also very promising. The increased number of those sitting Higher Level Irish examinations indicates that the bonus points system acts as a good incentive; while the slight increase in those taking French, German and Spanish is a positive outcome considering two-thirds of companies use foreign language skills in conducting business.’


“Finally, a sense of perspective is important. A good Leaving Cert is a valuable qualification, but CAO results do not dictate the future. Over the coming weeks, principals, deputy principals, teachers and counsellors will be on hand across the country to advise and support students looking at alternatives, or different paths, to college,” Mr Byrne said.