Mercy Secondary School Inchicore

Leaving Certificate Established

Transition Year

Senior Cycle begins in Transition Year (4th Year). Please see the Transition Year section for the programme information. All Junior cycle students progress to Transition Year from Junior cycle with the exception of LCA students.

Leaving Certificate Established

Mercy Secondary Inchicore offers a broad, inclusive and progressive curriculum that provides educational experiences that develop initiative, creativity and a thirst for knowledge, learning and achievement. All subjects are enhanced by co-curricular activities which include educational tours, immersive college experience, work placement, workshops, speakers and competitions related to the academic programme. Our Leaving Certificate Established is a two-year programme that aims to provide learners with a broad, balanced education while also offering some specialisation towards a particular career option.

In 5th Year the Leaving Certificate Programme begins. Both core and option subjects are followed.

The core subjects include:





Religious Education


Physical Education

SPHE: Social, Personal, Health Education


Leaving Certificate Irish builds upon the language developed during Junior Cycle. All four language skills are further developed in order to enable the learner to take an active part in the bilingual society in which we live today in Ireland. The learner is encouraged to develop and share her/his views on a range of topics. The learner is also prepared during Senior Cycle for further study in or through Irish. Irish is assessed at three levels i.e. Foundation Level, Ordinary Level or Higher Level. The learner’s oral competency is assessed around Easter of the final year, in an oral examination worth 40%, at each level, of the overall mark, and the other three skills are assessed in June. Aspects of literary works must be studied at Ordinary Level while at Higher Level these same works and additional material must be studied in greater detail.


Leaving Certificate English invites students into rich experiences with language so that they become fluent and thoughtful users of it and more aware of its significance in their lives. It develops a range of literacy and oral skills in a variety of areas, personal, social, and cultural. Students develop a wide range of skills and concepts. These will allow them to interpret and enjoy a range of material so that they become independent learners who can operate independently in the world beyond the school. Leaving Certificate English is assessed at two levels, Ordinary and Higher level.


Spanish follows a common syllabus framework for the teaching and examining of modern languages in the Leaving Certificate. The syllabus aims to develop learners’ communicative skills in Spanish, to develop their strategies for effective language learning and raise their awareness of cultural, social and political diversity. Assessment is by means of a written examination, and an aural and oral examination at two levels, Ordinary level and Higher level.


Mathematics at Senior Cycle builds on the learning at Junior Cycle and develops mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding needed for continuing education, life and work. Through their study of mathematics, students develop a flexible, disciplined way of thinking which enables them to solve problems in mathematical and real-world contexts. The syllabus is provided at three levels – Higher, Ordinary and Foundation level and is also assessed at these levels. There are two examination papers at each level.


Leaving Certificate religious education promotes tolerance and mutual understanding. It is a broad course which seeks to develop the skills needed to engage in meaningful dialogue with those of other or of no religious traditions. It is a non-examination subject within our school.

Physical Education

Physical education in senior cycle aims to develop the learner’s capacity to participate in physical education and physical activity in a confident and informed way. As a result of their learning in physical education, young people can increase their enjoyment, confidence and competence in a range of physical activities.

Guidance and Careers


The curriculum framework for SPHE in senior cycle is an enabling curriculum. The framework is built around five areas of learning. These areas of learning focus on what is important for learners in senior cycle to know, understand and be able to do in order to make and maintain healthy lifestyle decisions. The five areas of learning are:

  • Mental health
  • Gender studies
  • Substance use
  • Relationships and sexuality education
  • Physical activity and nutrition

Each student takes 3 option subjects from the following choices:


Art is both creative and expressive and it provides an opportunity for the development of the skills necessary for creative engagement with the world. The specification sets out clear expectations for students, across three interrelated and interdependent strands: Research, Create and Respond.


Biology is the study of life. Through the study of biology students explore the diversity of life and the inter-relationships between organisms and their environment. They become aware of the use of living organisms and their products to enhance human health and the environment. The Leaving Certificate Biology syllabus is for students in the senior cycle of post-primary education and is assessed at Ordinary and Higher levels. The biology syllabus is currently under review.


Leaving Certificate business creates an awareness of the importance of business activity and develops a positive and ethical attitude towards the enterprise. The learning experiences in business develop students’ critical thinking, creative and organisational skills while enhancing literacy and numeracy skills using real-life examples. Business provides students with a learning foundation for a wide range of careers in business, marketing, law, enterprise and management. It is assessed at Ordinary and Higher levels.


Leaving Certificate history deals with the experience of human life in the past. The study of history involves an investigation of the surviving evidence relating to such experience. It brings students into contact with human experiences that are often very different from their own and fosters their developing understanding of the human condition and human motivation. Through its focus on the evaluation of evidence, it contributes significantly to the development of students' skills of critical thinking. Through its focus on research, it allows students the opportunity to develop their skills of independent learning.

Leaving Certificate history is assessed at two levels, Ordinary level and Higher level. There are two assessment components: a research study report (submitted prior to the examination) and a written examination.


Leaving Certificate geography will help students develop an understanding of the changing relationships between the physical and human worlds. Through their study of geography, students will develop geographical skills that will help them to make informed judgements about issues at local, national and international levels. Leaving Certificate geography may be studied at Ordinary or Higher level. The course is divided into core, elective and optional units of study. Geography is assessed at Ordinary and Higher level. Students are expected to complete a report on a geographical investigation and to sit a written examination.

Home Economics

Leaving Certificate home economics provides students with knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes necessary for managing their own lives, for further and higher education and work. The learning experiences in home economics develop flexibility and adaptability in students, prepare them for a consumer-oriented society and provide a learning foundation for a wide range of careers in food, textiles, science, design, social studies and tourism. This syllabus is for students in the senior cycle of post-primary education and is assessed at Higher and Ordinary levels.


Leaving Certificate Music involves a series of interrelated musical activities within each of the three core areas of musical experience - performing, composing and listening. In performing, students choose from a variety of individual and/or group performing activities. In composing, students develop an understanding of musical structure and form, while the listening component provides for rich aural experiences through exposure to music of different periods, styles and genres.

Physics and Chemistry

The Physics and Chemistry syllabus is a discrete syllabus and students presenting for this subject in the Leaving Certificate examination may not present for either of the individual syllabuses, Leaving Certificate Physics or Leaving Certificate Chemistry. Physics and Chemistry is an experimental and practical subject and practical work by students is regarded as an integral part of the course. This syllabus is assessed at Higher and Ordinary levels.

How is it assessed?

Subjects are assessed by an examination paper and by additional assessment methods including oral and aural examinations, practical examinations and assessment of practical coursework at the end of the two-year programme of study. Performance in the examination can be used for purposes of selection into employment, and into further and higher education

Leaving Certificate Applied

Please see LCA section for further programme information.

Leaving Certificate Applied is a two-year course available to students who wish to follow a practical Leaving Certificate programme with a vocational focus rather than the established Leaving Certificate. Leaving Cert Applied is a two-year programme aimed at preparing students for adult and working life. The Leaving Cert Applied is often taken by senior-level school students who feel the traditional Leaving Certificate isn't for them, but who still want to continue with school and prepare for life after they leave.

The fundamental goal of the Leaving Certificate Applied is to prepare Leaving Certificate participants for the transition from the world of school to that of adult, college and working life. Through this programme, participants explore their own personal qualities, aptitudes and personal skills. Students engage with their learning more meaningfully and gain a greater understanding of the links to their post-secondary school path. Students are encouraged and challenged to explore their understanding of social, personal and cultural issues.

It is essential that the talents of all Leaving Certificate participants are recognised and that they are afforded an opportunity to develop in terms of responsibility, self-esteem and self-knowledge. Participants should also develop communication and decision-making skills so as to achieve a more independent and enterprising approach to learning and to life. The use of active teaching and learning methodologies across the curriculum promotes qualities that are fundamental to the development of an individual: self-confidence, responsibility, cooperation, teamwork, problem-solving, independence, decision making and initiative.

Subjects studied include:

  • English and Communications
  • Mathematical Applications
  • Languages
  • Vocational Preparation Guidance
  • Hotel, Catering and Tourism
  • Childcare and community studies
  • Music
  • Work Experience
  • Science
  • Social education

How is it assessed?

Students’ work and skill development are assessed in different ways including, interviews, written, oral and practical components throughout the two-course, accumulating in credits that are included in the final certification. Students earn credits for the work they do in each half-year session. There are final exams that take place in June - the same time as the regular Leaving Cert exams - but grades will not depend entirely on those exams because of credits students have achieved during the year.

What exams are involved in LCA?

The exams that are taken as part of the LCA include:

  • English and communication
  • Two vocational specialisations (practical exams)
  • Mathematical applications
  • Language (written and oral in all languages)
  • Social education

Grading for the LCA

The grading of the Leaving Cert Applied is broken down into:

  • Pass (60-69 %)
  • Merit (70-84 %)
  • Distinction (85-100 %)

What is the difference between the Leaving Cert and Leaving Cert Applied?

Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) is split into four half-year sessions, with more emphasis on continuous assessment instead of the end of year exams.

This is different to the Leaving Cert which focuses on the final exams taken at the end of two years (5th and 6th year).

What is involved in LCA?

The different elements of the LCA include vocational preparation and general education, taken as modules at different times over the two years.

Vocational preparation

Vocational preparation involves:

  • Work experience
  • Applying maths in everyday life
  • IT and computers
  • Communication

General education and specialisms

General education involves gaining skills and knowledge in areas such as:

  • Life skills
  • The arts (dance, drama, craft and design, etc.)
  • Social education
  • Active leisure studies
  • Language
  • Science
  • Childcare and community studies

Thomas Davis Street West, Goldenbridge, Inchicore, Dublin.
01 453 1262
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