I'm really not convinced by the anti- Project Maths arguments at all. People are losing the rag everywhere because vectors and integration and stuff like that (I'm not sure of the exact details and I'm too lazy to check) are being taken off the course, but I really don't think this will do any damage.
The amount of vectors in Leaving Cert HL isn't huge, and the questions in the exams themselves are so formulaic and repetitive that you could answer it reasonably well without really understanding anything about vectors at all (I may or may not have done this myself
). Mechanics at third level is (so I'm told) very similar to Leaving Cert Applied Maths. I didn't do Applied Maths, but in my experience the people who did were the ones who knew how to approach vectors when we first faced them in college. This will be no great loss, as far as I can see.
Same goes for matrices (AFAIK they are being taken off too). If anything, LC matrices were a hindrance to me- there wasn't a huge amount of time in 5th/6th year to explain the concept properly, and it was only when I did Linear Algebra in 1st year that I properly figured out what they were, what they could do, and how to use them. We covered everything taught at LC level in about a week or two anyway.
As for integration, I admit that I'm glad to have done it before facing it in college, but there were people in my calculus class who had never seen it before and they seem to have fared ok in the exams. In any case, if you go on to do a maths-intensive degree at third level, it is generally taught from first prinicples anyway, so it'll just be another thing to learn. That's what you do in college.
Personally, I think the extra statistical element is a good thing too. As with other parts of the current curriculum, the probability and statistics section can be rote learned without being understood to any significant degree. I certainly would like to have been taught the new stats section instead of the old one.
I don't think the Project Maths paper is any easier than the normal one. I had a look at it and I found some of the parts to be quite challenging actually. It's different all right, but I wouldn't say that it's much easier than the formulaic and predictable standard paper (which itself has a very easy Part A to every question, and generally a manageable Part B). Being perfectly honest, in general the people I see condemning Project Maths are themselves strong mathematicians, many of whom will find any maths exam easy. I get the impression that a lot of people are annoyed that their subject is being sullied by having some of the pure maths sections removed more than anything else.
I got a B2 in HL maths in 2009, and I did very well in 1st year Maths Science in UCC this year. I don't think that doing Project Maths would have made third level maths much more difficult for me. I'm sure I'm very much in the minority in my opinions here, but I feel like I need to voice the opinion of some who doesn't feel particularly confident in their mathematical abilities (despite still studying the subject). I don't think grades are being artificially raised at all.