Two big changes have been implemented in secondary school maths since 2008, and some of these changes are still ongoing. In this article, Eamonn Tolland of TheMathstutor.ie walks you through those changes, gives detail on what is Project Maths and gives some guidance to parents on how best to deal with the changes to support their teen.
Sign up for our free Newsletter stuffed full of ideas, competitions and offers. PS Did we mention it’s free?
“Project Maths” and Junior Cycle Reform
What is “Project Maths”?
“Project Maths” is the name given to the maths syllabus currently in use in secondary schools in Ireland.
It was initially introduced to some schools in 2008, and it is now fully implemented for all schools for the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert. Since 2014, all secondary students are being examined on the full “Project Maths” course.
What is Junior Cycle reform?
In the context of maths, this means that for students entering first year from 2018 onward (exam year 2021 onward), Junior Cert maths will be replaced by the new Junior Cycle for maths. This will have broadly unchanged mathematical content, but involves a different approach to teaching, learning and assessment.
Here’s a bit more detail on both of these changes:
- “Project Maths” puts more emphasis on real-life scenarios and requires a real understanding of maths rather than just rote learning. It’s also intended that there should be less predictability in exam papers.
- “Project Maths” has meant that all textbooks have had to be completely revised for Junior Cert and Leaving Cert. More expense for parents but by now there should be plenty of these textbooks available second hand.
- Some of the older past exam papers and marking schemes also contain a mixture of the new and old syllabus, but the more recent years are fully based on “Project Maths”. This is something to bear in mind when doing revision. You can find all past papers and marking schemes, for free, all in one place on TheMathsTutor.ie.
- The new syllabus has had a very mixed reception among teachers and students. Some teachers have criticised the course for being too long in some areas, while lacking in what they see as key topics for second level maths. Some students, and parents too, are finding it hard to cope with questions which are much wordier than before, and which aren’t exactly their idea of what maths should be. However, “Project Maths” does follow on from the primary school syllabus, and as time goes on it has gained more acceptance.
- “Project Maths” also has many supporters, who like the hands-on nature of learning involved, the new problem-solving skills being acquired, and the real-life applications of maths being understood.
Building upon these changes, there are more to come for students entering first year from 2018 onward (exam year 2021 onward). For these students, Junior Cert maths will be replaced by the new Junior Cycle for maths.
This is part of the overall Junior Cycle reform which has already been rolled out for other subjects. The mathematical content is broadly unchanged, but there is more emphasis on hands-on learning and continuous assessment.
There are new textbooks being issued for Junior Cycle maths. Students will complete two Classroom-Based Assessments, an Assessment Task and a single-paper final exam to be taken at the end of third year.
You might also enjoy reading A Parent’s Practical Guide to Surviving Leaving Cert
With all of this change ongoing, as parents and teachers, what should we do?
Should we “give out” about Project Maths, or the new Junior Cycle, and so give a message to students that it’s OK to “opt-out” of even trying to deal with it? We suggest that it’s better to realise that this new style of maths is here to stay, so it’s much better to focus on the positives, find ways to deal with any negatives, and take steps to help our students to improve and even excel in the subject.
It’s much more productive to help students to gain a proper understanding of each topic, put it into practice, and make sure they are well schooled in exam technique so that they know how to deal with the new exam papers. This brings wonderful peace of mind to students and parents alike.
So we strongly recommend that a positive attitude be taken towards Project Maths and the new Junior Cycle by everyone, and we would be delighted to answer any queries you may have. Get in touch at any time.
You might also like to download our key dates for Leaving Cert sheet
TheMathsTutor.ie is Ireland’s leading online support system for Junior Cert and Leaving Cert maths. Since 2011 we’ve been helping students and parents all over Ireland to build up their understanding of maths, improve their maths grade and to achieve their exam and career goals!
We know how challenging maths can be, and how important it is for students to achieve that grade and get on their dream course. We’ve seen the peace of mind that comes when a student receives our help to understand a topic and starts to feel confident going into their maths class in school. And when they build up their understanding and skills in maths, and get our help with exam technique, they can bring that same confidence into the exam hall.
At TheMathsTutor.ie, we provide pre-recorded video lessons on-demand, covering the whole course for Junior Cert and Leaving Cert maths, at ordinary and higher levels. We also provide model solutions, on video, for the last 7 years of exam papers, and we give online support to students 7 days a week! Our 16 page exam technique booklet is the icing on the cake, giving a clear strategy and simple tips for students to maximise their maths grade.
We’ve had wonderful feedback from parents and students over the past 8 years, click here to find out what they said about our system!
How is your teen getting on with Project Maths? Let us know in the comments box below