Senior School Curriculum


Educating the ‘whole child’ is a responsibility which we take very seriously at St. Conleth’s. Each student receives personal supervision and training and is encouraged to participate in intellectual, artistic and athletic pursuits.

Excellent academic achievement is, of course, at the core of St. Conleth’s success. A sensible curriculum which allows for substantial choice and variety is expertly run by a staff which exudes the perfect blend of experience and enthusiasm. We are perfectly placed to implement the new Junior Cycle, of which the phasing-in process has already begun. Our staff are already planning for the significant changes which this new regime will usher in, particularly regarding the wider choice in subjects and the use of continued assessment. In keeping with the school’s ethos, subjects are not streamed except for Irish and Math in exam years, and the favourable pupil/teacher ratio allows for smaller classes and greater personal attention.

A study logbook is maintained throughout the year to encourage a healthy and productive habit of regular revision. The optional, supervised After-school Study, from 3:30-5:30, has proven very popular with both pupils and parents. Fifth and Sixth Years also attend intensive study-skill seminars and individual guidance sessions.

The objective of these study strategy sessions, and our intensive academic programme as a whole, is not merely to maximize the point-taking on the Leaving Certificate. Our Sixth Years do finish at or near the top of the table each year, but just as importantly, we are confident that they are leaving us for courses and careers which suit their individual talents and interests.

Junior Cycle

This is an exciting time to be beginning Senior School as the new Junior Cycle begins to take effect. In English, Irish, Science and Business Studies, First Years will be part of the new Junior Cycle with its more interactive and practical syllabi and the development of continuous assessment. Each subject teacher will explain the details but rest assured that this is a beneficial development for students, a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario, where a student’s in-term work earns more credit yet there is still a cumulative exam.

The curriculum includes all of the following core subjects:

  • English
  • Irish
  • Maths
  • Science
  • History
  • Geography

Students will also take three of the following subjects including at least one modern language:

  • French
  • Spanish
  • Music
  • Visual Art
  • Classics
  • Business

Non-examinable subjects that are part of the curriculum are:

  • CSPE (Civic, Social and Political Education)
  • RE (Religious Education)
  • SPHE (Social, Personal and Health Education)
  • PE (Physical Education)

In accordance with the new Junior Cycle, there will also be ‘short courses’ offered. Chinese and Computer Coding are two popular examples.

Senior Cycle

St. Conleth’s is able to maintain the academy-like ethos and atmosphere of a small school while offering an impressive number of subjects at the Leaving Certificate level.

All students take:

  • English
  • Irish
  • Maths
  • Religion (non-exam)

Students choose four or five subjects from:

  • French
  • Spanish
  • Latin
  • History
  • Geography
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Applied Maths
  • LCVP
  • Art
  • Music
  • Classical Studies
  • Economics
  • Business

Choice groupings are determined solely by student interest but we always arrange the choices so that the linguistically talented can take both French and Spanish and the budding scientist can take Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

English

English

Each year 95-100% of our Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate students take English at the Higher Level, while the national average is 68%.  This statistic is indicative of the English Department’s mission and ambition to push every student to his or her limit in regards to comprehension and expression of the English language.

We have already begun to implement the new Junior Cycle curriculum, which has a greater emphasis on practical and oral English and we welcome the increased scope it allows for project and co-operative work.

Transition Years are currently enjoying a year-long Drama course which is dedicated to enhancing both their appreciation of the greatest current and traditional plays and their own performances, culminating in their year-end musical in-house musical, which always brings down the house.
The Leaving Certificate is approached with the right mix of enthusiasm and precision as we manage to uncover the student’s literary talents while we ‘cover’ the demanding course.

At all levels, our English teachers take advantage of the cultural capital of Dublin, and every class gets to see at least one of their texts each year performed professionally in a theatre. Of course, ICT enables us to also bring performances into the classroom, and to engage in the interactive and cross-curricular adventures which are at the heart of the new recommended model of education.

Useful sites:

Maths and Applied Maths

Maths and Applied Maths

The study of Mathematics is a core component of secondary education and we take great pride in the excellent results we achieve. At both Junior and Leaving Cert level, the numbers of students taking maths at higher level and their standard of attainment far exceeds the national average.

Our aim as a department is to stimulate our students’ curiosity, interest and enjoyment of mathematics. We encourage all students to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. Supported by the teachers and working collaboratively, students begin to understand key mathematical principles, methods and language. Most importantly, our aim to to ensure that students are able to transfer their mathematical knowledge to the real world.  Of course, at Leaving Cert level, Applied Maths takes this impulse to its logical conclusion, and this optional, elective class often attracts the most mathematically ambitious.

We have many opportunities throughout the year for our students to participate in external competitions including:

  • All Students should familiarise themselves with the Student Area which on the Project Maths website.
  • Our 1st and 2nd Years should use www.khanacademy.com as much as possible.

Other useful websites include:

Science

Science

Junior Certificate: Science
Leaving Certificate: Biology, Chemistry and Physics

Look at dramatic inflation in the ‘points’ requirements for Third Level Science courses, and you will see how important, and competitive, an education in Science is becoming.  The employers clearly want Science graduates, and entry into these courses is now at a premium!   Of course, for the Department of Science at St. Conleth’s, making our students eminently employable is only a by-product of our true mission: to encourage our students to learn and enjoy all the wonders of the World of Science.

The new Junior Cycle places Science right up there with the holy trinity of English, Irish and Maths as a required subject, so there is no dodging the donning of the white lab coat!  And why would you try?  JC Science gives you a broad but lively and engaging introduction to all the various areas and aspects of the subject, from astronomy to zoology, with hands-on laboratory experience a priority.  At St. Conleth’s something is always cooking up there in the lab, and an added bonus is a nice break out on Clyde Road for everyone when someone inevitably trips the smoke detector with his smouldering magnesium.

For Leaving Certificate, we encourage every student to do at least one science, and we set the timetable so that it is possible to do all three: Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  Smaller class sizes assure close attention from the teachers and there is a lively competitive spirit and repartee between the senior science subjects.

Science also comes alive outside the classroom at St. Conleth’s. We have a proud tradition of entering and winning prizes at the Young Scientists Competition, with multiple teams and individuals being selected for exhibition each year, and our teachers also take students to other Science events throughout the year, including the Scifest national science exhibition and competition, which we are hosting an associated event this year.

Some relevant links:

Also of interest:

History

History

At Junior Certificate Level in St. Conleth’s, History is still a mandatory subject and well it should be!  George Santayana famously warned, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Our bankers and politicians may have ignored this sage advice, but our History students will not be able to plead their ignorance!  The coming new Junior Cycle course will make a well-designed curriculum even better with a greater emphasis on primary sources and interactive research.

Leaving Certificate History is a significant step up, as students are expected to complete their own independent research topic and fine-tune both their content knowledge and academic skills over a demanding but rewarding two-year course.  It is a heavy workload but there is still time for informed debate in a classroom environment which harkens back to the days of Plato and the Socratic method of learning….sans hemlock!

Mr. Carvill, Subject Co-ordinator notoriously has an incurable case of wanderlust, and he leads his merry troops on various escapades throughout the year.  There is the annual First Year History trip to the Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig, the Third Year trip to Titanic Belfast and shorter trips to our local museums and archives.  And our various foreign larks, with Mr. Carvill often at the helm, always have a historical element (alongside the water-slides).  There are also the History Teachers Quiz (which we have hosted) and and the famous First Year Castle Competition!

You can refer to the St. Conleth’s History Website for the latest updates.

Also:

  • You can find a comprehensive resource for the Irish History Curriculum at this scoilnet website.
  • The History Hub is a very useful resource funded by UCD.
  • This website is part of the UK schoolnet resources and may also be useful.

Geography

Geography

The time-honoured cross-sectional diagram of the earth is most of our First Years’ first entry into their Study-books, but Geography certainly goes on from there!

Geography may be the most diverse subject you can study in school. What happens at the subduction zone? Are South America and Africa two pieces of a jigsaw that once were joined together? What is a population pyramid? How come the south of Italy and the west of Ireland have so much in common? Global Warming, Desertification, Deforestation, Overfishing, Major Multi-National Corporatons, Political Corruption, Refugees, Fair Trade, Bilateral Aid … and so much more.

In our Geography classes we try to cover our curriculum using innovative teaching methodologies that engage the student. Geography pupils will reach their goals and learn so much about the world we inhabit in an interesting challenging environment!

There is something about the OS maps, the pictures and the field trips that sparks the interest and keeps the students focussed. Again, the new Junior Cycle version of Geography promises even more hands-on adventures in learning, with projects and field-work counting via continuous assessment towards the final grade.

Field-work is already mandatory in Leaving Certificate Geography as the mandatory field-study brings our Sixth Years out into the elements with their various measuring and recording devices. A non-mandatory, but recommended, jump in the Irish Sea often caps the trip to a nearby strand….once the long-shore drift has been carefully noted.

French

French

“Learning French in St Conleth’s College is the most interactive, easy to follow and enjoyable way to not just learn how to pass an exam, but to love the fact that you know how to speak French.” D.O’C – 5th Year

The French Department has always been one of the more dynamic forces at St. Conleth’s.  Over six years of studying French in St Conleth’s, students will be lead by qualified French teachers to appreciate the language, discover its use and experience the importance of learning a language in today’s society. Written and listening tests, oral exams (from 1st to 6th Year) and methodology classes will provide the tools and the practice the students will need to succeed at both the Junior and the Leaving Certificate.

From singing, to participating in quiz, competitions, debates, exchanges and school trips; from creating their own blog and researching for their French projects to participating in role plays or making presentations in front of the class, students will engage in a wide range of cultural and educational activities.  The methods used to teach French at St Conleth’s College are innovative, diversified, adapted to the students’ level and based on a genuine communicative approach. Personal reflection, group work and participation in class is encouraged by every teacher.

One of the more curious traditions of the French Department is the ‘immersion method’ of sending our Third Years to a noted ‘Région de Langue Française’- Donegal!   Ms. Brotelande and Ms. Sheppard would regularly gather the Junior Cert boys and head off to the wilds of Donegal for some intensive language lessons, with a good bit of outdoor pursuits and water-sports thrown in to make the vocab and grammar go down easier.  Of course, a handsome young Australian gap year student was usually brought along to do the heavy lifting!  Mr. Porzadny and Ms. Crowley have continued the tradition, as can be seen from our pics, and just this last year, there was the return of another honoured Conlethian tradition- the return to the actual motherland itself.   As well as cultural activities with the Transition Years at the Alliance Francaise, and their various cutting edge technological classroom interventions, Mr. Porzadny and Ms. Crowley have also kept Les Joutes Oratoires thriving at St. Conleth’s: Several of our Débatteurs Français over recent years have won ‘Best Speaker’ awards.  Indeed, every year at St. Conleths’s is a Year of the French!

French Department Links

On www.myfrenchteacher.eu students and parents will be able to find: a reminder of the weekly homework for the Senior cycle students, activities and lessons for all the students, sections for the learners of the French language as well as for French teachers, and several links to useful websites such as:

Spanish

Spanish

“Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter,” Yudhijit Bhattacharjee wrote earlier this year in a piece for the New York Times Sunday Review. “It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not (even) related to language….”  AND… In Europe, Spanish is the second most popular second language, after English. With some 400 million speakers, Spanish is the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world.  So … es claro que tienes que estudiar el espanol!

Our Subject Co-ordinator, Ms. Killen, is too modesto to make this claim herself, but clearly she is a maestro at squeezing the best results from her students, having recently helped two of her students achieve the top marks in the whole country at the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate level, and we felt obliged to alardear for her!  Classes are usually small, even by Conleth’s standards, and there is plenty of personal attention.  And our visiting Spanish students are always helpful in preparing our natives for the examen oral.  In Ms. Killen’s class, you will get away with nothing … except an impressive command of español and a top result!

Art

Art

Our dedicated Art Room is always full of students busily drawing, painting, pencilling, carving, cutting, crepe-ing, colouring… well, being creative in one way or another! Mr. O’Dulaing may bemoan the colossal clean-up but he is justifiably proud of the number of Conlethian graduates now going on to degrees and careers in art and design.  Our recent graduates have gone on to NCAD and IADT and other top-notch art programmes, and the pieces which they have left behind cover our walls!  It all starts in First Year, when all students are obligated to take Art, and there is the option (and encouragement) to continue onwards to the JC, LC and beyond.  Ms. Halpin nurtures and develops the talents of her students with a firm but encouraging hand, and you need only walk our hallways to see the stunning student art which is often the result.

I am very proud of the Art department and of the students of St Conleths who over the years have created amazing Art work which adorns many of the school’s walls and corridors. We are lucky to have an abundance of talent and enthusiasm to work with within this school. I have been teaching Art at St Conleths for ten years now and every year I am amazed and encouraged by the students’ connection and enjoyment of the subject.

Art is a primary visual language, essential for communication and expression. Drawing, (especially for us artists) is as important as the development of written and verbal skills. The need to see the world through visual means is stronger than ever. And the problem solving and lateral thinking that goes on in the art room is second to none. Images transcend the barriers of language and so for many of our international students they find a sanctuary when they can excel as their English develops.Drawing is our key tool. It is a skill that is used in many industries in the creative sector, animation, architecture, design, fashion, film, theatre, performance and the communication industries. Drawing is also used in a a range of other professions to develop, document, explore, explain and plan. This includes the fields of Science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine and sport. In keeping this in mind we try to go cross curricular with other subjects in the school. Imagination, creativity, hard work, time and focus also help a lot.  

Ms. Halpin,
Art Teacher at St. Conleth’s


Music

Music

St. Conleth’s has always had a proud tradition of emphasising music, but lately this has been taken to a whole new level. The dedicated Music Room is constantly a-buzz, hosting the practice of our School Choir and musicians or the more free-form adventures of various soloists and student bands as they prepare for our Annual School Concert, Christmas Carols, various other assemblies and or just simply jamming and having fun! A recent but very popular venue is ‘Buskers’ Corner’, an ‘open mic’ lunchtime concert which welcomes new performers of all styles, instruments and experiences to the stage. All First Years take Music, and get to show off their stuff in special Class Concerts, and they are encouraged to continue the subject into Second Year and the Junior Certificate. Music accompanies every single event at St. Conleth’s, or should we say, since it has become so important, school life now accompanies music!

Classics

Classics

Classics VI Notes:

Like the Spartans at Thermopylae, the Classics and Latin Department may be surrounded and outnumbered but they are fiercely proud, frenetically active and quite blissfully unaware of how many ‘likes’ they have on Facebook.  All students take Latin in First Year.  It is a proven perfect primer for further studies in language, history, mathematics and cavalry battles. A bit of Latin also presumably helps in the fields of law and medicine, but its real attraction for mere dabblers is the ability to drop a pro bono or alia iacta est in mixed wine-and-cheese company. For the chosen few, Latin continues through Second and Third Year and here the pueri become viri, once they can command the Stephen Fry-dubbed ‘Rolls Royce’ of Latin grammar: the passive periphrastic.

For the Leaving Certificate, students may take either Classical Studies or Latin, but not both, as the exams run co-currently. Rumours abound that one Conlethian in the past, the ambidextrous Ambrose MacGillycuddy, managed to take both exams simultaneously, writing with both his left and right hands, but others claim that the Classics paper was actually completed by his conjoined twin, Umbrose.

Latin shifts to an early morning start for the Leaving Cert, and the small class size allows sufficient time and space for extensive discussions, which make the grammar, vocabulary and history go down like a leisurely cena in the luxurious triclinium of some splendidly idle patrician in the last, golden days of Rome.

Classical Studies is the broadest Leaving Certificate subject, mixing drama, history, epic poetry, biography, art and architecture in a delightful but challenging combination of different disciplines. You will analyse Alexander’s use of light infantry, measure the intentionally skewed lines of the Parthenon and voice the anguished rage of Jason as he weeps over the fate of his young sons. The abilities to read, write and think are the only pre-requisites but a taste for adventure is recommended.

Our phalanx of Classics and Latin students are quite active extra-murally. We are perennial laurel-winners at both the Classics and Latin Teachers’ Speech Competition and the Ides of March Classics Table quiz. (Click here for a write-up of our most recent expeditions to these competitions.) We also visit the interactive Classics Museum in UCD, wander amidst the neo-classical Georgian splendor of Dublin and every second year, head to Rome itself!

The best site for further useful links is the webpage of the Classical Association of Ireland Teachers: www.caiteachers.com

Economics and Business

Economics and Business

Economics

Economics is offered as a Leaving Certificate subject at both Higher and Ordinary Level. The course is divided into two parts:

  1. Microeconomics which studies price, costs, utility, supply and demand, elasticity, marginal theory, markets (competition, monopoly and oligopoly), factors of production (land, labour, capital and enterprise), and the role of government intervention in markets.
  2. Macroeconomics studies the economy as a whole and examines how it is performing by measuring key variables such as GDP, inflation and unemployment.  It also explores booms and recessions and examines how governments should influence the economy via fiscal policy (tax and spending) and monetary policy(ECB).

Half the 8 questions examined by the Leaving Cert exam are on Macro and half on Micro.  Candidates must answer any 4 questions.

Business

Students enjoy the subject’s mix of practical skills and more academic theoretical elements, and the new syllabus under the Junior Cycle promises even more ‘real life’ learning.

During Transition Year, ‘mini-companies’ take over the school as the students are encouraged to set prices, cut costs and negotiate with the labour force (i.e. themselves), as they put their Business acumen into practice.

At Leaving Certificate level, Business is often the most in-demand class: few can resist the allure of practicality and entrepreneurial inspiration. A high-light of the year is trooping down to the nearby Aviva Stadium for the Bank of Ireland Bond Trader Challenge, where teams from Mr. Bolger’s Business classes compete against
schools from across Leinster in doing what Business students do best: make money!

Religion

Religion

Our school ethos, based on Christian values, infuses everything which we do at St. Conleth’s, but it is our Religion teachers who take the lead. In the class, they explore topics and issues which are important and relevant to the students from a Christian perspective but always as part of an open discussion which allows input from all faiths and philosophies. Each year group also goes on a retreat, where both faith and personal development are emphasized, and there is an Annual School Mass as well as prayer services and masses for individual classes. And the annual trip to the Clonskeagh Mosque is always a popular ecumenical adventure, for the boys!