Maths Week 2021

Maths Week 2021 starts this Saturday 16th October and runs until Sunday 24th October. 

There are lots of free events taking place, not just for schools and teachers, but also for families and adults. Take a look at some featured events below and head over to the Maths Week website for the full line up. 

Galway Maths Grinds is providing a short free online course on “Mental Maths and Rapid Calculations” which can be accessed via

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GMG Student Resource Bundle Now Available

I aim to help students be successful and reach their potential in their studies, particularly in Maths and Physics studies. Giving them expert guidance in their core topics is a given. But to help them achieve maximum success I have produced a number of documents covering skills that are useful in learning in general. These include:

  • Google Search for Students
  • Making the most of your Scientific Calculator
  • Making the most of the Formulae and Tables Booklet
  • Time Management for Students
  • Study Skills Diagnostic Inventory Tool

These can still be purchased individually but I have now also gathered them into a single downloadable PDF file to allow the bundle to be purchased at a discount to the cost of buying each individually. They can be got at Galway Maths Grinds – Payhip.

Considering the range of valuable knowledge and skills this could help you improve, it offers a pretty sweet return on an investment that costs about the same as two cups of coffee.

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Wishing the best of luck to all leaving cert students receiving their results today.

Best of luck to all the students receiving their Leaving Cert results today. You experienced a year like no other and worked incredibly hard regardless of the hurdles you faced. We wish you the very best of luck as you progress to the next stages of your lives. Go n-éirí leat!

We congratulate those students who secured the results they hoped for and commiserate with those that may be disappointed. On behalf of Galway Maths Grinds, we wish you well for the future.

The National Parents Council Post Primary Leaving Cert Helpline 1800 265 165, a free phone service provided to Leaving Cert students and their parents and guardians, opens today Friday September 3 at 11am.

The service offers professional and confidential one-to-one support, advice and guidance on Leaving Certificate results, Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA), Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP), CAO offers, further education and training (including apprenticeships, traineeships and Post-Leaving Certificate courses), opportunities for further study abroad, SUSI and grant application processes and the State Examinations Commission Candidate Self Service Portal.

The Helpline will be professionally staffed by members of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC), who will assist callers with up to date information on issues such as the appeals process, reviews and rechecks, CAO applications, non-CAO options and SUSI/grant applications.

The NPCPP Leaving Certificate Helpline 2021, 1800-265-165, will operate the following schedule.

Friday September 3 to Friday September 10, 2021

Friday 3, 11am-8pm

Saturday 4, 11am-8pm

Sunday 5, 11am-4pm

Tuesday 7, 11am-8pm

Wednesday 8, 11am-8pm

Thursday 9, 11am-4pm

Friday 10, 11am-4pm

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Label Things – save yourself some stress and expense

Less than a week to go until most students will be back at school. There are lots of things to do to prepare. Don’t forget to label your bits and pieces.

Whether they’re returning to nursery, primary, or secondary school your child will have plenty of clothing and equipment they’ll need to take with them for the day. Every year, towards the end of the school holidays, parents make a mad dash around the shops getting the last minute school essentials such as backpacks and highlighter pens.

All parents know that the chances of some of these items making it to the end of the school year is pretty slim, but that doesn’t stop your child nagging you to buy the latest style of bag or pencils with their favourite cartoon character on them. One solution to tackling missing clothing and equipment is to invest in name labels that can be attached before the start of term to avoid things going walkabout, and help to return them to you if they do.

In fact, a My Nametags study revealed that school jumpers, school books, and stationery are the top three most commonly lost items for children, making it all the more important to label your child’s belongings before term starts. And apparently it is the 13- to 17-year-old age group that is most likely to lose items.

With nearly everyone carrying a mobile phone these days its not surprising that phones are often mislaid. Again simply putting your name and a backup number on the cover will greatly enhance the chances of its safe return should yours be misplaced. Same goes for laptops, cameras, calculators, pencil cases, spectacles, hand tools, sports equipment and any other piece of equipment that is often carried around.

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What is the Difference Between a Teacher and a Tutor?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between teaching and tutoring? You may have not given it much thought but there are fundamental distinctions between a teacher and a tutor.

Teachers lead, Tutors ensure no one is left behind and breakdown barriers to education

It’s a teachers Job to deliver a whole syllabus within a set period of time. The teacher has two main aims.

  • to make the material as interesting as possible so the students will engage with it.
  • to try and enable as much of their class to grasp and understand as much of the material as possible.  

So, teachers must deliver the syllabus in a way that leads a group of students, trying their best to ensure as many students as possible will follow. Unfortunately, many students get lost and get left behind. Even with the most skilled teachers, the pressure of having to deliver a whole syllabus within a time-frame means that the delivery must be given in a way that captures the most students, which often means the average ability. But since not all students can learn in the same way, a barrier to education can be created. Even the extra bright students can be held back from realising their full potential if the class does not tackle more advanced material.

Tutors, on the other hand, focus more on ensuring an individual student understands what they are learning. The tutor can manipulate the learning to reach the student in a way that they can understand. It is the skill of the tutor to remove the barriers to learning and alter the pace of the learning to the student’s understanding.  Very skilled tutors can support a student to learn to manipulate the information themselves, supporting them to gain a different way of learning that enables them to both understand how they learn best, how to engage in mainstream teaching styles at the same time and how to translate some of the information themselves outside of the classroom.

Teachers deliver to groups, Tutors work 1:1

I think this is the main difference between teachers and tutors and one area that should really be firmly in the minds of all educators and parents alike.

Teachers are taught how to teach in small groups and to whole classrooms. They usually start with small groups and then teach larger classes. They are not generally taught how to work with students on a 1:1 basis.  Working with students on a 1:1 basis is completely different to working with a group.

In a lot of fields that specialise in working with people – specifically children, such as psychology, counselling and social work. Practitioners are taught to work with groups and or in a  1:1 way. As these professions know that working with groups involves inclusivity and the group working together, whereas working on a 1:1 basis becomes an emotional relationship.   The classroom has multiple personalities and characters. These combine, and the group has its own identity and group dynamics. Working 1:1 reduces this dynamic to a single individual student and individual tutor. So, attachment styles, capacity for openness and connection is now a part of the educational relationship, it’s very different to a classroom.

Some tutors and teachers are more suited and comfortable with the 1:1 relationship. Whereas others are more suited and comfortable working with groups.

Children can hide in a classroom and some may feel exposed during tuition

In a classroom, children have the ability to merge into the background if they are struggling. They can do this by not asking for help or not engaging and staying as quiet as they can. It is more difficult to support children who are hiding, as the difficulty only comes to light during tests and some homework. Some children who are struggling also can go the other way in the classroom. They can act the class clown or misbehave as a way of hiding their school-related difficulties. Some prefer getting into trouble to admitting they find their schoolwork hard, and the associated negative feelings that go along with that.

But, during tuition, students cannot hide and it becomes very difficult for them to act the class clown. They are forced to expose their school difficulties. Many will benefit greatly by working with these difficulties in their learning. However, some will struggle with this exposure, and the feelings of self-worth behind the hiding or acting out.

Teachers work with engagement, tutors work with connection

In a classroom, teachers need to engage the student and help them have an interest. But, the dynamics of a 1:1 relationship require the tutor to connect with the Student. Where the tutor fails to connect with students, with empathy and understanding of their educational ability, the relationship will feel uncomfortable or intense.  The students will not be able to learn as well as they could.

Teachers have to manage behaviour, tutors have to manage emotions

In the classroom, children can use their behaviour to dilute their learning to a way that is manageable to them. Either hiding or acting out in the classroom. But, during 1:1 children cannot hide or distract from their learning, so the tutor will soon meet the emotional world of the child, normally their negative self-esteem that lies under the behaviour they use in the classroom.  Tutors need to know what they are doing and be skilled to manage these emotions.

Teaching has a time delay, tutoring has immediacy and moment to moment feedback

When working with a group of students, we can understand this as teaching, there is a moment to moment feedback time delay. The student is part of a group and the teaching is delivered to the group. So an individual student rarely has direct one-to-one learning, and experiences a lot of the feedback with a time delay. The teacher also has a time delay on seeing the progress, achievements or difficulties a child may have. Normally having to wait for homework to be returned, or the results of tests.

In contrast, tutoring on a one-to-one basis has an immediacy and constant moment to moment feedback throughout the session. If tutoring is performed properly and the tutor can manage the immediacy and mediate the feedback to guard any negative feelings, the student will benefit tremendously and learn at a rapid rate

To summarise:


  • Teachers provide tuition to a large number of students, they are required to follow a standardized curriculum focused on specific academic standards. Their classroom should reach targets and this is done within a time limit.
  • A teacher must try and devise a method of teaching that fits most students.
  • Teachers will have to provide learning material that helps children with many different learning styles.
  • Teachers will adjust the pace to the classroom as a whole, if the majority of students have understood the information the teacher can move ahead.


  • Tutors provide individual one to one tuition. They can tailor the lessons to the individual students’ learning style.
  • Tutors can present information in several different ways or methods to help the student grasp concepts.
  • Students often lead the way with tutors, they request help with specific tasks or assignments. Tutors help fill in the gaps.
  • Tutors reinforce what has been taught in the classroom.
  • Teachers teach a subject but tutors pay attention to the students individual needs.
  • Tutors can help students with study skills and techniques. If one method does not work they will find another.

The work of teachers and tutors can be complimentary.

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Leaving Cert Results to be published on September 3rd

Leaving Certificate exam results will be published on September 3rd, instead of the usual date in August in more normal times. Students need not be overly concerned by the delay as the CAO and universities have all agreed to accommodate the later timeline. First round of offers is expected to be made the following week.

The delay in this year’s Leaving Cert results will mean third level institutions will have to defer the arrival of first year students to the third week in September. Universities will have to reserve a proportion of on campus accommodation for first year students, as they had done last year.

Discussions have also been held with UCAS (the UK equivalent of the CAO) to change their deadline.

Students who sit the exams and opted to receive the accredited grades will be credited with the better of the two results.

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Last Date for any additional Assessments for Leaving Cert Grades

For the Leaving Certs of 2021, we are nearly there. Friday of this coming week will be the last chance to get any in school assessments that might influence the final outcome. So if the school is giving any tests in this week up to May 14th, pull out all the stops to do as well as you can.

After that it is down to the teacers, schools and deprtment of education to work out student grades.

Those who have registered to sit final written exams in June will have a second chance, being able to take the best grade for each subject from the school assessments and the final written exam.

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Further Adjustments to Leaving Cert 2021 Written Examinations

The Department of Education published Assessment Arrangements for Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate Examinations 2021 in September 2020 and an updated version of that document in December. That document set out the adjusted arrangements for post-primary students taking certificate examinations in the 2020/21 school year designed to take account of the disrupted learning experienced by students during the 2019/20 school year with some contingency built in for future further disruptions to learning. In light of the extended period of school closure in 2021, resulting in further disruption to learning, it was agreed that further adjustments should be made to the written examination papers to recognise this additional impact on learning. The aim of these further adjustments is to lessen the load, as far as is reasonably possible, for candidates both in their preparation for the written examinations and also on the day of the examination. These further adjustments have been finalised following discussions between the Department of Education, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the State Examinations Commission. They are additional to the previous adjustments, but in some instances these further adjustments supersede the previous ones. Details of the previous adjustments are available in Assessment Arrangements for Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate Examinations 2021.

The adjustments, in most cases, involve providing further choice to candidates by reducing the number of questions to be answered in the examination. While this will have the effect of also reducing the time needed to complete the examination, the duration of each examination will remain unchanged, thus substantively relieving time pressures.

­The changes changes for Ordinary and Higher Level Applied Mathematics, Mathematics and Physics are as follows:

The changes for all subjects can be found at EN-EX-16278631.pdf (

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Science Week 2020


Science Week

Science Week 2020 which runs from November 8th to 15th will stage hundreds of virtual events throughout the country focusing on deploying science to help make a better future. It provides people across the country with the opportunity to ask questions, explore the science behind everyday lives, and consider the future we want and the role science can play in helping us create and understand our shared future.

This year’s theme “Choosing Our Future”, focuses on how science can improve our lives today and for decades to come. Science, technology, engineering and maths all play a huge role in our everyday lives and in our economy. That has never been clearer than during the past few months as we respond to Covid-19. Science Week is an opportunity for us all to engage with the science all around us and have informed conversations about our shared ambitions for our future.

This year is the 25th anniversary of Science Week Science Week. It aims to support conversations among the public about what they want the future of Ireland to look like, and how science can and should support the hope we have for our collective future.
Throughout Science Week the public will be invited to get involved, to share their views.

Most Science Week 2020 events will take place online and are free to join, but registration may be required. A number of events are due to take place in person in full compliance with Covid-19 guidelines. Science Week events taking place and available to join online include:

Baking in Space: A virtual opportunity to join Andrew Smyth, aerospace engineer and Great British Bake-Off finalist, and Dr Niamh Shaw, scientist, performer and explorer, on a gastronomic journey into orbit. The event will be taking place live online on November 8th, 11th and 15th.

Tech Scéal: This will bring together families to explore science and engineering through a series of workshops involving robotics, electronics, coding and e-textiles culminating in an online virtual exhibition.

Workshops: A series of entertaining workshops are being staged for primary and secondary schools to bring into their classroom, including an exploration of our senses with Ginny Smith, scientific illusions with Dr Matt Pritchard and aerodynamic discoveries with Go Fly Your Kite.

Family Day: A special family day on Saturday, November 14th, will stream interactive events and workshops on including a live quiz with Phil Symth (RTÉ’s Home School Hub) and an interactive session with Mark the Science Guy (Explorium) to build your own Rube Goldberg machine at home.

The Mirror Trap: This is a short immersive scientific experience about psychology and quantum physics on Saturday, November 14th, at 19.30pm.

This year there will be 13 Science Week festivals taking place in Cork; Cavan/Monaghan, Sligo, Galway, Limerick, Tipperary, Mayo, Wexford, Kilkenny, Kerry, the southeast and the midlands. For a full list of shows, workshops and talks visit


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Leaving Cert Results Out Today – What Happens Next?

Exam ResultsAbout 60,000 Leaving Certificate students will receive results on line today, with the class of 2020 achieving record grades. Concerns that the calculated grades system would lead to grade inflation have in fact materialised, and this will no doubt feed into higher points requirements for entry to further education courses through the CAO system. The new calculated grading system, introduced due to Covid-19, shows an average increase of 4.4 per cent across all subjects. According to the the Department of Education the grades estimated by teachers were higher again before the calculated grades system brought them down.

Overall, 16.9 per cent of grades have been lowered from what had been given by teachers. H1 grades of 90 per cent and above are up 3.3 per cent at Higher Level and 1.7 per cent at Ordinary Level. In Maths there was a 2 per cent rise in H1 grades at higher level. In Maths and Irish, the numbers graded at Foundation level has roughly halved. In Art, Economics, Accounting, Business and Home Economics the share of H1s at Higher Level has at least doubled, while in Music, they rose from 4.3 per cent to 13.

From 9am today, students will have access to their grades via the Calculated Grades Student Portal.

The student portal will reopen on September 14th at 9am and will provide you with the subject percentage marks you were awarded by the calculated grades process. You may also access the estimated percentage marks which were provided by your schools.

Students who are unhappy with the Calculated Grades they receive in any subjects will have the opportunity to submit an appeal. The appeals process will open on September 14th at 9am and students will be able to access it via the Calculated Grades Student Portal. Students will have until 5pm on September 16th to submit an appeal.

CAO offers are due to be released on September 11, and points for many third-level courses are likely to rise due to higher grades being offered this year.

Leaving Cert 2020 candidates are receiving calculated grades today and, as a back-up, they may also sit written exams in November. They have an unprecedented opportunity to pick and choose and to give themselves the best chance possible in terms of outcomes as they get the better grade from either the Calculated Grade or the written exam grade.

The Department of Education has announced November 16 as the provisional date for the start of the exams postponed from June. It’s provisional because it depends on the public health advice at the time, and the plan is to hold the exams in the evenings and on weekends. There will be no fee.

Unfortunately the written exams come too late for entry to college this autumn. Considering the extent of the disruption to their education earlier this year, students will have to consider how motivated they are and how they would revise for the exams.

The exams will be written only and based on the normal question paper format. There will be no orals, which is an important consideration for language students who would have been relying on that element of the exam to boost their grade.

A FREE helpline will be available from today, provided by the National Parents Council Post-Primary for students, parents and guardians. It will be professionally staffed by members of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, who will help callers with information on issues like the calculated grades appeals process, sitting exams in 2020, reviews and rechecks, CAO applications, non-CAO options and SUSI applications.

Call the IGC on 1800 265 165 for more information.

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