Leaving Cert: Exam success for busy mum and cello teacher

Dutch woman plans to help her kids with their studies

Ryan Dunne


Ryan Dunne



Leaving Cert - Exam success for busy mum and cello teacher

Ellen Byrne, Roisin Finnegan and Sonja Cadogan, with their Leaving Cert English results at the Portlaoise Further Education and Training Centre.

A Portlaoise-based cello teacher whose first language is Dutch was among the adult learners at the Laois Offaly ETB this week celebrating academic success in Leaving Cert English.

Sonja Cadogan, who teaches the cello at the School of Music in both Kilkenny and Laois, was one of five adult learners who sat the exam at the Portlaoise Further Education and Training Centre.

Although she completed the Leaving Cert equivalent in Holland years ago, Sonja decided to return to education recently in order to not only improve her English, but also to assist her children who are themselves sitting school exams.

“I’m originally Dutch and was not confident in my English, especially writing English, and my children who are doing Junior Cert and Leaving Cert wanted help,” she told the Leinster Express.

“I have one child doing Junior Cert next year and one doing Leaving Cert, and I have some who did it already. We studied together.”

Sonja also did the maths paper, studying with her son who completed the same subject to do a PLC course. She says that she would like to go on to do further studies, but felt she wasn’t confident enough in her use of written English. That has now changed in the wake of her achievement.

“It doesn’t really matter to me the results, it was more to do it and now I can help the children. It gave me confidence, confidence that I can do another course now. I looked at other courses and you have to submit text and it used to take me ages to get a text together, but now I know I can do it, I can do essays,” she said.

Despite having a packed life as a mother and music teacher, Sonja is keen to do learn more English, maybe at a higher level, and would consider continuing her studies with the ETB.

“I enjoyed maths and English, but English is much nicer because you can talk to each other. It’s worth the time, I work fulltime and have children, but still had the mornings free,” she said.

Course tutor, Deirdre Brennan said that all the adult learners did great work this year, while Kathleen Dunne, director of the centre, pointed out that some of the learners are managing work and family life as well as studying, which is an extra credit to them.

The centre will be holding an open day on August 31, for more information see www.portlaoisefec.ie or visit their Facebook page.