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Students should consider senior cycle subject choices carefully





At this time of the year many Third and Fourth Year students are considering their options for Senior Cycle. Some thought and proper research at this stage paves the way for lots of opportunities for progression onto college courses, apprenticeships, training programmes and the workplace in the future. The main choices to consider are Transition Year, Leaving Cert Applied and the traditional Leaving Cert.

Transition Year: Opting to do TY gives students lots of opportunities to develop new skills personally and in terms of the world of work. It also facilitates work experience and subject sampling which greatly assists subject choices for Leaving Cert and subsequently career choices. Students are encouraged to engage in activities that move them outside of their comfort zone, allowing them to take on more responsibility and leadership thus gaining more independence. The TY programme varies from school to school so it is important to look at what is offered before deciding if it is the right option.

Leaving Certificate Applied Programme: For students who are interested in more practical learning and hands-on work, the LCA is the ideal option. It is a two year stand-alone programme which focuses on equipping students with work-based skills and knowledge while assessing in a more continuous way. Work Experience is an integral part of the programme, usually offered on one day of the school week. While students who do LCA can’t apply directly through CAO from Leaving Cert, most other career paths are open to them, including Post Leaving Courses (PLCs) which then allow them to progress onto Institutes of Technology and Universities.

Traditional Leaving Certificate: Moving into the final two years of secondary school requires students to make subject choices that suit them and allow them to progress in career areas they may be interested in. That said, it is perfectly normal for 15 and 16-year-olds to not know what they want to do after school. Students will generally take seven subjects for Leaving Cert; Irish, English and Maths, which are compulsory unless a student has a language exemption and four optional subjects chosen from those which are offered in the school. If on offer in the school, some students will also opt for Leaving Cert Vocational Programme (LCVP), a subject which focuses on enterprise education and preparation for the world of work.

Optional subjects should be chosen by taking the following into consideration; what subjects the student likes, what they are good at and what subjects/grades may be required for the colleges or courses that they are interested in. For students who have a big interest and a flair for a particular area for example business or science, they may opt to take two subjects from either area. For students who are considering applying to an NUI College such as UCC for areas other than Science, Food Science and Engineering they will need to keep on a language as it is a minimum requirement, while this is not the case for other Universities and ITs. For students who are undecided, the best advice is to choose a broad range of subjects. Consider taking one option from the following; a language, a science, a business subject, a practical or humanities based subject. By talking to the guidance counsellor in school, students can consider their strengths, results, aptitudes, interests and career areas they are considering before making choices. Further information on entry requirements is available on the college websites and by checking the subject requirement module on For information on the content of all the subjects on the Leaving Cert course consult


Niamh Dwyer is a guidance counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore and is PRO of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors.




Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes



Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.


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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate



By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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