Up to 15 secondary schools in Ireland are not providing the option to study key subjects at honours level for the leaving certificate.

The Union of Secondary Students in Ireland has said it is shocked by the practise, which is preventing pupils from accessing certain third level courses.

Twenty delegates to the general meeting of the Union of Secondary Students informed the conference, this afternoon, that in some of their schools there is no class at all for subjects such as honours Irish and honours maths.

They say that teachers have told them that this is due to a lack of resources. They also said that the schools had told students that they were not actually capable of doing honours subjects.

The President of the Union of Secondary Students, Hazel Nolan, said this was putting extra pressure on pupils competing in the points system where a pass subject was worth 60 points while an honours subject was worth 100 points.

She said it forced students to try to perform much better in their other subjects.

The President of the Institute of Guidance Councillors, Brian Mooney, said the practise was preventing students from entering careers such as primary teaching.

He also said students would not be able to meet the entry level for subjects such as engineering at higher degree level.