They think it is all over, it is now…!

For those Leaving Certificate’rs out there, well done, it is over and ‘hats off to you’. I hope that your past 5-6 years’ work, slog and sweat has paid off and that you left the examination room each day feeling good saying ‘that was the best I could do’. Most of you are now going on / are on holidays, are on working visa’s or simply taking time out, reflecting on the past 2-3 weeks and hoping that you have done enough to get what you want in your future ideal job / career / profession.

As you all know, there are many ways and means to get to your final destination, some direct and some indirect. Whether you have to go a route that wasn’t what you had planned, know this route and all the options open to you. It may take some extra time (at most a year), but when the destination is clear in your mind and it is a place that you want to go to no matter what, it will happen for you. Like anybody who wants to realise something in life, especially in sport, they will stop at nothing until they achieve it. And most importantly, these people enjoy the journey towards the destination more that the destination itself, making the destination more possible. You just have to want it badly enough and work hard.

So as you wait for mid-August to arrive, look forward to it with positivity, enthusiasm and with a sense of reward. You hope that the calculator adds up the grades / points to the magic figure that you so desire and so do I. If for whatever reason it doesn’t, there are so many options open to you.

But for now, it is all over…!

What are you doing for the summer?

This is a question that all students are asked around this time of year as they finish another academic year and transition into a two or three month period of ‘No school’. Students preparing for exams maybe in a different mind-set right now, but they too will have a long summer break.

Whatever your age, a summer break should never be wasted. Yes, you have had a long, difficult and challenging year with school / college, study, exams, assignments, projects, sport and various other activities and you deserve a break. But this break I believe should be a break of re-vitalisation and re-energising through activity, new learning and experience.

It is important to spend at least one to two weeks doing nothing after you finish school / college. This is actually important for both your physical and psychological health, After the period of rest / transition, begin to spend your summer with purpose and reasoning. So, if you haven’t already your summer planned, these are some things to think about.

Those of you under 16:

  • Choose a new (or an existing) sport / activity, buy good gear / equipment for it and become really good at it
  • Take up exercising and do it every day or every second day and stick to it
  • Join a charity or do volunteer work
  • Spend quality time with relations / grandparents (your time with is precious)
  • Get a pet and care for it (if you do, remember it is for life, not just for summer)
  • Start reading books
  • Discover the great outdoors

 Those of you over 16:

  • Develop a CV and get a summer job
  • Travel
  • Learn to drive a car
  • Choose a new (or an existing) sport / activity, buy good gear / equipment for it and become really good at it
  • Do a project or big task in your home for your parents / family
  • Go to five places in Ireland that you always wanted to visit / see
  • Discover the great outdoors too!

Routine and discipline are key here. You have to want to do it and you have to enjoy it or it simply will not continue. When the end of August arrives, you will look back and say, ‘’that was a great, memorable and my best summer ever…!’’

The End of Another Year…

Here we are again, heading towards the end of April and May upon us with another year in college completed. It may be your first year or your last year, but whatever year it is, congratulations to you if you have stayed the course, sat the exams, completed them and feel confident of having done well. Final year examinations are about to start / have started in most Third Level academic institutions, while Second Level students are still waiting anxiously for June to arrive (only six weeks away now).

You are now in study mode. The knowledge has been given, shared and sourced. It is now time to reflect on everything you have learned and be able to find the energy to remember what you have learned and be able to articulate it on paper. It is not easy! Don’t regret not putting in the work on this the final hurdle.

With the examinations out of the way, you probably do not want to see a book or a laptop again and this I understand. Before starting your summer vacation or a summer job or indeed a full-time job, clear the desk! If it is your final year, try to find the time and motivation to transition from academia to job-hunting to employment by carefully and neatly stowing everything away. If you return to college again in autumn, think about what you need to do, prepare for now, so that the preparations are easier later.

Transitioning from education to holidays to employment can be difficult and energy-sapping. Think about what you have done, are doing and have to do. Get mindful and feel the transition, enjoy it and look forward to what the coming days, weeks and months can bring to you. If you are one of the 1000’s of Leaving Certificate students siting the exam this year, keep going, work as hard as you can and it will all be so worth it…well done…!

The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) – Let’s Break it Down!

Leaving Certificate Vocational ProgrammeThe Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme is provided in many schools across the country, though not all schools provide it, due to reasons of class numbers, location and coordination challenges. We are told that there are over 500 schools offering the programme, which is still a lot. The LCVP offers students a unique opportunity to develop their interpersonal, vocational and technological skills, and experience at first hand the ‘real’ world and what it takes to ‘make a living’ after education is complete.

Benefits of completing the LCVP are many;

  • For CAO purposes, the points achieved in six subjects can be used.
  • It is completed before the June examination
  • Help students choose a their third level course
  • Help students choose their ideal career
  • Develops IT, communication, vocational and writing  skills as well as develop skills in case studies, interview techniques and teamwork, which will be very helpful to students pursuing third level education or those who wish to enter the jobs market after completing their Leaving Certificate.

Students can sit the Leaving Certificate Examination and choose to do the LCVP as an eighth or extra subject. The LCVP course consists of two link modules called ‘Preparation for the World of Work’ and ‘Enterprise Education’.

There are qualification criteria in order to complete the LCVP as well as doing the LCVP itself – two subjects in the Leaving Certificate from any one of specific combinations from subject groups (see further on in article); a language or a language module, Irish subject and a minimum of five Leaving Certificate subjects. Note that some students may be exempt from some languages.

Leaving Cert SubjectsSubject Groups (The Department of Education & Science):

  1. Accounting, Business, Economics (any two)
  2. Art and Accounting or Business or Economics
  3. Biology and Chemistry or Physics
  4. Biology, Home Economics, Agricultural Science  (any two)
  5. Construction Studies or Design & Communication Graphics and Accounting or Business or Economics
  6. Construction Studies or Design & Communication Graphics and Physics
  7. Construction Studies and Design & Communication Graphics
  8. Home Economics and Accounting or Business or Economics
  9. Home Economics and Art
  10. Music and Accounting or Business or Economics
  11. Physics and Chemistry.
  12. Art and Design & Communication Graphics
  13. Agricultural Science and Construction Studies or DCG
  14. Agricultural Science and Chemistry or Physics
  15. Agricultural Science and Accounting or Business or Economics

CAO Points for LCVP are 70 for a Distinction (80-100%), 50 for a Merit (65-79%) and 30 for a Pass (50-64%)

The LCVP course is made up of 60% of portfolio work, completed in fifth year and 40% is a written examination that takes place in May of sixth year.

The LCVP course includes the following (The Department of Education & Science):

  • Presentations from guest speakers from the world of work
  • Visit to places of work locally
  • Team Enterprises
  • Work Experience
  • Using Computer Technology
  • Interview Preparation and Technique
  • Learning how to write up reports and plans
  • Preparing Curriculum Vitae
  • Investigating Careers

The 60% part of LCVP contains (The Department of Education & Science):

  1. Core items (do all four)
    1. Curriculum Vitae
    2. Summary Report (on a visit in/out)
    3. Action Plan – i.e. on learning a new skill or organising an activity
    4. Career Investigation
  1. Optional items (do 2 out of 4)
    1. Recorded Interview – 5 minute interview on DVD
    2. Enterprise Report – e.g. on organising and running a fashion show
    3. Report on ‘My own place’ – i.e. a brief summary of what facilities are available in their local area
    4. Diary of Work Experience – 3/5 days of a work experience placement

The 40% part of the LCVP i.e. the examination incorporates      (The Department of Education & Science):

Section A – Audio Visual Questions:

Students watch a video featuring a business or community enterprise and answer questions on it.

Section B – Case Study:

Students read a short outline of a business or community enterprise and answer questions on it

Section C:

Students answer 4 out of 6 general questions.  Topics here include questions on careers, reports, plans, interview questions, work experience and items that have been written up in their portfolios.