One in five Leaving Certificate students drops from Higher Level to Ordinary Level Maths in the months leading up to the Leaving Certificate exam, according to a study of the teaching and learning of Maths published today.

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The report was carried out by an industry education group with a mandate to report to Tánaiste and Minister for Education Mary Coughlan.

It says bonus points for Maths, if they are introduced, should incentivise these students to stick with Higher Level in the subject.

The report of the Project Maths Implementation Support Group says the feasibility of making Maths a mandatory subject for CAO points calculation should be explored.

The group also strongly endorses the new Project Maths syllabus, which is currently being piloted in 24 schools. And it says it should be rolled out as planned to all schools, supported by the necessary resources.

In a number of wide-ranging recommendations, the report also says schools should be required to teach Maths to all pupils every day and teachers should not discourage students from studying Higher Level Maths at Leaving Cert.

It also calls for a sustained programme of Maths training for primary school teachers.

The report was published on the day more than 55,000 students began their Leaving Certificate exams this morning amid tightened procedures designed to prevent a repeat of last year's security breach.

The Junior Certificate exams also got under way today.

The challenge for Leaving Certificate students this morning was English Paper One.

For the State Examinations Commission, it was getting the exam process back to smooth running after last year's English Paper Two security breach.

That exam had to be rescheduled after a superintendent at one centre in Co Louth distributed the paper a day early.

The SEC has introduced a number of new security measures in an attempt to ensure that such a mistake does not happen again.

They include a system that sees superintendents checking each others security procedures.

Students in 24 schools will be tested in the Project Maths syllabus, which is aimed at boosting students' interest in the subject.

Mary Coughlan wished students well this morning.

'Good luck and enjoy the summer when the exams are over,' she said.