Though now a seasoned Leaving Certificate campaigner, Waterford man Eoin Jackson was still delighted to discover on Wednesday that he had set a new world record by passing no less than 27 of the subjects he had taken this year.
Eoin, who helps run the XLc education project in Waterford, refers to his feat as ‘educational lunacy’ but there is method behind his ‘madness’ because what he really wants to do is highlight the valuable work that the XLc project is doing.
The XLc Project is a family run school that was set up in 1998. It has thus far put about 700 early school leavers from the South East and beyond through State exams, Leaving Cert and Junior Cert.
The XLc methods are unique. They are based around mutual respect. The most telling endorsement of the project lies in the outcomes. Each year the small semi-voluntary staff put about 70 students through LC and JC and the pass rate stands between 86% and 97% annually. These figures tend to astound teachers who have dealt with the students in their former schools and who would not have considered that student capable of passing those exams.
Under the XLc pedagogy, they operate at a level where the student is always experiencing success and, once they’ve succeeded, the buzz of achievement becomes addictive and they then want to do better. In that way they build up the confidence and ability of students until they are ready to tackle the Junior or Leaving Cert.
Unfortunately, the XLc project falls between stools at a bureaucratic level and has not received mainstream funding yet despite the fact that many influential people in education are full of admiration for its ethos and success.