The LCVP is a two-year programme, designed to enhance the traditional Leaving Certificate. LCVP students develop skills, which will be of use to them in further education, in employment or even in starting their own business. Students develop these skills by taking two Link Modules called the World of Work and Enterprise Education.
The approach taken in studying these modules involves working in groups, doing independent research, preparing of a portfolio and learning in a self-directed fashion. Students go on visits to businesses in the local area, plan and implement events, host visitors from local organisations, both commercial and not for profit and undertake work experience during holiday periods. Accounts of all these activities are recorded and submitted as part of the student’s portfolio.
In order to gain entry to the LCVP, students must do a Modern European Language plus a combination of at least two subjects from the Business, Science or Practical areas. These combinations are referred to as Vocational Subject Groupings as it is believed that businesses in Ireland would welcome as employees, students, who had some knowledge of these areas. There are multiple combinations of subjects, which may be used for entry to the LCVP and students are given this full list when selecting their options for the Leaving Certificate.
Students are assessed by means of a terminal exam based on a case study plus their portfolio, which they prepared over the two years of the course. Results are issued along with all the Leaving Certificate results in August each year.
In Moyle Park, the Leaving Certificate Applied programme is taken by two classes in the senior cycle as an alternative to the mainstream established Leaving Certificate. The programme allows students to learn in a different way. Typically students learn by doing. They learn to get a job, by getting work experience. They learn about enterprise by setting up and running a business.
Unlike the established Leaving Certificate, which focuses on a terminal exam for which points are awarded, the Leaving Certificate Applied gives credits to students in three slices.
- Some credits are awarded for coming to school and doing the work,
- Some more for doing major tasks or projects, which are assessed by interview.
- Some for doing terminal exams.
In order to do well in the course, students must take part in the ongoing activities, which are an integral part of the programme. During the year, students get involved in a variety of different projects including, running a business, devising a database for use in seeking work experience, designing a house or a room within a budget, running healthy eating projects or fittest class competitions and developing woodwork projects to a design brief. They also undertake out of school projects involving music, first aid, life saving, care of the elderly and coaching or fitness regimes. Students undertake two blocks of work experience during the year.
A variety of trips and visits are undertaken including a visit to Casement Aerodrome, the local Garda station, the cinema, cycling and hill walking. Equally visitors come in to the school to speak to and work with students in class. There are visits each year from our very valuable community business partner, The Grafton Group, who have given workshops on CV preparation and interview skills. They kindly provide summer work experience for those who are selected after a competitive interview process. Likewise we have visits and presentations each year by self-employed people, talking about the rewards and drawbacks involved in that way of life.
As a group, students speak positively of their time on the course, finding the different approach suits many of them and as a result, their time in school is more productive and happier. In fact some would go so far as to say that they would not have remained in school so long had it not been for the course itself.
Many of the sixth year students obtain places on one or two year post Leaving Certificate courses. These places, in some cases, are conditional on the quality of the overall result obtained from the course. Others get jobs, either as apprentices or in places where they have previously done work experience.
The final beauty of the Leaving Certificate applied is that it allows students, who have struggled within the education system up to the Junior Certificate, to find a way of learning that works for them. This gives them the confidence to continue after the Leaving Certificate onto a PLC course and then onto further third level education, a situation that many would have thought impossible when facing the Junior Certificate exams.
This happens because of the way in which the Leaving Certificate Applied course is structured with the short-term goals, the modular arrangement of the material and the quick feedback of results. Moyle Park looks forward to continuing this course long into the future.