Efforts to support subject choice for all students are commendable
Whole-school Evaluation, Department of Education & Skills, 2014.
Loreto Secondary School cherishes the academic abilities of all and delivers a broad curriculum which offers a wide range of subjects. We strive to enable each of our students to achieve her academic potential. We encourage each student to be ambitious in relation to the targets she sets for herself and our students work in an atmosphere that is supportive of this aim. Loreto students have a strong sense that their teachers care about their academic progress and want them to do well, regardless of their individual aptitudes and abilities.
Since September 2020, all of our lessons are of one hour’s duration. After an extensive review process that included consultation with students and parents, it has been decided to continue with this structure. The following have been identified as key strengths of this approach:
- Better depth to the teaching and learning experience in the classroom
- Improved scope to support student learning in new topics
- Easier to use a wide variety of teaching methodologies
- Less time lost during the day do to transitions between classes
- Less stress for students – easier to plan for a day with six lessons
- Less complex timetables – easier for new students to navigate and manage lockers etc.
Our new Junior Cycle curriculum is innovative and embraces forward-thinking educational philosophies. Our curriculum gives maximum scope to each student to tailor her own programme to meet her needs in terms of her interests and talents. This is achieved by giving our students maximum choice when it comes to selecting their subject options for 2nd Year. There is an appropriate emphasis on well-being, with students assigned almost 400 hours of tuition in this area over the course of their Junior Cycle programme.
In First Year, all students study the full range of subjects on offer for the duration of the year. Therefore, no choices have to be made prior to enrolment. This allows students to make an informed decision with regard to their options for Junior Cycle.
Our classes are formed on the basis of mixed ability. We find this brings a benefit to all students in each class and contributes to Loreto’s extraordinary academic achievements. Higher and Ordinary level classes are formed in Irish (at the start of Second Year) and Mathematics (from October of First Year). English is streamed from the start of Fifth Year.
In addition to continuing the study of the core examination subjects of English, Irish*, Mathematics and History, students choose five of the following subjects (free choice) to continue with into 2nd Year.
Art, Business Studies, French, Geography, German, Home Economics, Music, Science, Technical Graphics.
(Note from September 2021, First Year students will be asked to choose their language during the first term after a taster period, however, students who wish to continue with the study of both languages will be facilitated also).
In addition, students take the following non-examination subjects which are a vital part of our programme:
Religious Education, Choir (optional after First Year), Civic Social and Political Education (C.S.P.E.), Physical Education (P.E.), Social Personal and Health Education (including Relationships and Sexuality Education), Artistic Performance and Digital Media Literacy (First Year).
Option subjects are chosen in the Spring of First Year. Due to our student-centred approach and efficient use of the best available technologies, close to 100% of our students will get their top preferences (100% in 2021 for example).
Our Transition Year (TY) is an optional year that bridges the gap between the Junior Cycle and the Leaving Certificate programmes. It is hugely popular in Loreto with the vast majority of our students opting for the programme. TY encourages personal, social and academic development and actively promotes independent learning and thinking. The programme offers taster modules of the subjects we offer at Leaving Certificate level which allows a more informed subject choice. TY encourages the development of a wide range of transferable critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills which prepares students for the Leaving Certificate, further study and the world of work. Students are permitted to participate in two separate weeks of work experience.
Students in TY follow a full programme of the academic subjects we offer at senior cycle, along with Religious Education, PE, Careers, IT, Social Education, SPHE and RSE. In addition, students currently choose one of the following modules: Junk Kouture, Mini-company, Computer Science, Drama & Effective Communications.
Choir is offered as an option and there are also modules in Spanish, Chinese and Road Safety for those who do not choose Choir. All students participate in the GAA Future Leaders Award programme.
Further to our timetabled curriculum, workshops are organised in many areas, such as First Aid, Creative Thinking and Problem-solving, SOAR Resilience training, among many others.
An outdoor pursuits trip to Carlingford is undertaken annually and hopefully will be possible at the end of the current academic year, Covid-19 permitted!
Many students participate in the Gaisce and the Aim High Award programmes and also in the ORC Confirmation retreat programmes in the local community. Volunteering is strongly encouraged during TY, in line with our Loreto ethos.
Students are free to enter numerous competitions, such as The Young Scientist competition, Young Economist of the Year and Junk Kouture.
Our TY programme aims to be all-inclusive by providing wide-ranging opportunities for our students. TY gives students the space to mature personally, socially and academically.
We offer a broad range of subjects in the Leaving Certificate. All students take the core examination subjects of Irish*, English and Mathematics as well as Religious Education, Guidance and Physical Education for the duration of the programme. Students can also choose to study Choir or I.T. All students continue with R.S.E. (Relationships and Sexuality Education) in 5th and 6th Year.
Thanks to our student-centred deployment of resources and the skills and expertise of our teaching staff, we are very proud of the range of subjects offered at Loreto and in particular how we have expanded the subjects on offer in recent years:
The Arts: Art, Music.
The Sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Physics.
The Applied Sciences: Agricultural Science, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, Home Economics (Social & Scientific), Physical Education (LC Exam.).
Business Studies: Accounting, Business, Economics.
Languages: French, German.
Social Studies: Geography, History, Politics & Society.
In the year prior to entry to senior cycle, students are given a free choice of any four of the above subjects. On average, 98% of our students receive their top four preferences.
Plans are underway to offer Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) in 2022.
*Exemptions from Irish facilitated in accordance with Department of Education and Skills’ regulations (click here for info.)
Leaving Certificate Applied
We offer the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) programme which is a distinct, self-contained two-year programme aimed at preparing students for adult and working life. The programme puts an emphasis on forms of achievement and excellence that the established Leaving Certificate has not recognised in the past. Over the years, our classes have done very well. Our numbers achieving the highest grade (distinction) well exceed the national average. LCA is offered subject to sufficient demand. We currently have a class that is preparing to complete the programme in 2022.
Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme
This course, which is available each year to students, offers an enhanced Leaving Certificate in the form of the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme. The L.C.V.P. student undertakes the study of two Link Modules: “Enterprise Education” and “Preparation for the World of Work” in addition to the normal programme of core and optional Leaving Certificate subjects (above). The programme increases the number of C.A.O. points secured by many of those that take the course and is offered as one of their four option subjects.