Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

Leaving Certificate Curriculum Reform: Discussion

4:00 pm

Mr. Ross MacMahon:

I would like to make a point that has not been made today in regard to the new Irish. I understand that up to 17% of pupils in our schools are new Irish. Many of these students, as we know from our involvement in seminars with Maynooth University, are trying to fit into the Irish education system. We are trying to measure how they go through the Irish system but that system has one of the biggest infusions of new thinking and new ideas, whether that be Arabic, Latvian, Estonian or Polish culture and we should be looking at that very carefully to ensure that we do not try to just fit them in. We should be looking at this in the wider context because this is an opportunity for us, as an island, to reach out and we should be looking at our curriculum in that context.

The second point I would like to make relates to the speed of change which was referred to earlier. Everyone is agreed on the speed of change but we in the NPC would be very much aware that when we go through periods of change, we seem to come up against innumerable blockages, whether they are based on discussions around remuneration or other issues. I am not going to get into that now but I would point out that it is a major block to progress and it is our students, our children, who are the ones who cannot move through. We are trying to benchmark internationally and that is not good for Ireland.

My final point is on eclectic education. While there should be an emphasis on STEM, when we look at why software is good in this country, it can also be connected to language skills. STEM is very good and it is great to see diversity and women coming through in that area but we must not neglect the arts.


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