In these two final years, pupils study for the Leaving Certificate, the national examination which is taken in June of the Sixth Form. The Leaving Certificate is more broadly-based than its British equivalent, ‘A’ levels, but shares much with Scottish ‘Highers’. It has achieved a high international reputation in recent years. Most pupils study seven subjects, which can include both arts and sciences, and can be taken either at Higher or Ordinary level.
In St. Columba’s, pupils must choose English, Maths, French or Spanish and Irish (unless exempt), and then are able to select from these additional, examined subjects: Applied Maths, History, Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Business, Economics, Art, Classical Studies, Music, Construction Studies, Design and Communication Graphics.
Pupils also have one period of RE and SPHE a week and, depending on their main subject choices, may select one of the following to study for two periods per week: Advanced Maths, Agricultural Science, LCVP, History of Art, Computer Studies, Geology, PE, Recreational Art.
If applying for Irish third-level Colleges, six of the examined subjects above count towards ‘points’ in the national system run by the Central Applications Office. Places in Colleges and Universities are allocated centrally, successful applicants being those who achieve or exceed the relevant ‘points’ tariff for a particular course.
If applying for UK third-level Colleges, pupils enter the UCAS system. Both our Guidance Counsellor and Senior Tutor help all Form VI pupils to complete their forms, aided by a specially appointed individual academic tutor. It is worth pointing out that a majority of Columbans choose to send applications through both systems and make their final choice after they receive their Leaving Certificate results. Using two systems does, of course, provide a very broad range of opportunities.
Pupils who leave St. Columba’s go to a wide spectrum of third-level institutions across Ireland, Britain and further afield.