Mayo Girls’ School is one of the first to offer Computer Science as a Leaving Cert Subject

Mount Saint Michael’s Secondary School, Claremorris, is one of the first girls’ schools in Ireland to offer Computer Science as a Leaving Cert subject. Last Friday (25th Nov) they officially launched their Computer Science Programme, in collaboration with St Colman’s College Claremorris with TD Alan Dillon, other local politicians and representatives from the business community in attendance.

Female participation in STEM subjects is extremely low, with girls making up only 27% of those who took the Computer Science Leaving Cert exam in 2021. Three years on and Mount Saint Michael’s are looking to positively impact that number with their class of 2024.

Aoibheann Mangan, a student in the Computer Science class is excited for the future and this class is playing a big part in that.

Speaking following the launch Aoibheann said:

“I know for me it’s not art or music or sport that I’m good at, it’s coding and computers. It feels great being able to study something that motivates me rather than working through something I dislike in an effort to get good results in my Leaving Cert. We are very lucky and thanks to our schools’ Boards Of Managements, Teen Turn and our parents we are studying computer science for the Leaving Certificate in 2024.

We know there are many more who will not be opening the exam hall door to sit the exam, many who would love to and many I would say NEED to – those who want to go to college and study computer science or any other ICT or technology course. Computer science is a subject that needs to be offered in every single second level school in Ireland given that the future of so many jobs rely on these skills.”

Principal Ciaran Ryan from Mt St Michael said:

“As schools, it is imperative that we remain current in educational provision. As educators, one of our goals must be to help develop logical thinking and problem-solving skills among our students, and these are very much an integral part of the Computer Science curriculum. Students of 2022, regardless of field, must be proficient in the use of ICT systems and computer science lends itself very much to this”.

In another historic moment, it is not just the girls in Mount Saint Michael that are benefitting from this new class, as a group of boys from St Colman’s College are making the short trip to their neighbouring school to benefit from the introduction of Computer Science in the girls’ school.

Mr Roy Hession from St Colman’s said:

“It is a great privilege for me as Principal of St Colman’s college to be here in MSM on such a significant day with our two schools working together collaboratively in the provision of Computer Science. I would like to thank all involved in the initiative including Mr Stephen Burke the class teacher and the students themselves.”

Teen Turn, a charity which aims to provide teen girls, particularly those from underserved areas, the opportunity to gain hands-on STEM experience are supporting the girls from Mt St Michael as they pursue their Computer Science course by providing online tuition once a week to them. Teen Turn works with girls to give them the skills they need so they can visualise themselves in those kinds of careers and therefore make third-level course choices accordingly

Joanne Dolan, Teen-Turn Co-Founder, added

“There can be no equity in education if there isn’t equality in terms of access to facilities, equipment and instruction for girls and boys in the subjects most necessary for participating in the knowledge economy. By working together, these two schools are demonstrating how 21st-century learning can be undertaken in rural and remote areas. We are delighted to be able to contribute to this valuable initiative.”