Gary Gannon TD

Ultimately, we need to ensure that equity is at the heart of these changes

Plans announced today to reform the Leaving Cert are long overdue but welcome, according to Social Democrats Education Spokesperson Gary Gannon.

“The first Leaving Cert exams took place in 1924 and, prior to 2020, remained largely unchanged in the intervening period. For decades, we have been aware of the huge burden of stress caused by the assessment model of the Leaving Cert exams, which has been criticised by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

“I therefore welcome the Minister’s announcement that the proposed reforms include ending the disproportionate over-reliance on terminal exams and greater weight being assigned to continuous assessment, projects and other course work. However, we need more than just assessment change, we also need curriculum reform in tandem with that – and we need to see much more detail on this from the Minister.

“I also welcome the opening up of subjects to Leaving Certificate Applied students, which will allow for improved pathways for LCA students, and the creation of two new senior cycle subjects; Drama, Film and Theatre Studies and Climate Action and Sustainable Development.

“The commitment to revise the Transition Year programme, and have greater access for all students, should be implemented as quickly as possible. Transition Year is a highlight of senior cycle for many young people and every student should have access to its benefits.

“Ultimately, we need to ensure that equity is at the heart of these changes and that we are truly reducing the stress caused to students by the Leaving Cert – and not just moving stress around. With that in mind, I am eager to see feedback from stakeholders, particularly students, when it comes to permanently moving the orals and practical assessment to Easter; students completing English Paper 1 and Irish Paper 1 at the end of fifth year and the marking of assessments.

“Since Minister Foley became Education Minister, I have asked her to present a vision for education in Ireland. More detail is needed, but I do welcome this first step from Minister Foley and her Department in signalling an intention to bring about the profound change that is desperately needed to our senior cycle education system.”

29 March, 2022


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