Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

Leaving Certificate Reform: Discussion with School Management Bodies

Mr. John Curtis:

What we will strive to achieve over the next couple of years is balance. There is much in the traditional leaving certificate that is good. It is valued and can be built on but, in essence, we need to change. We need to reflect on what happened educationally in the last 25 years in this country. In the mid-1990s, we had fundamental reform around the leaving certificate applied, the leaving certificate vocational programme, LCVP, and transition year. That brought great fruits to the system. In actual fact, in the early 2000s, we engaged in a process in which Professor Anne Looney was involved, whereby we looked at the leaving certificate and reform in that instance. However, people felt it was too early to progress it at that stage. We went into incremental change in the junior cycle, which has been successful. The time is right now, especially given the learnings of the next couple of years, to reinvent, recalibrate and to reimagine what are our future will look like.

We need to get a balance by retaining what is good in what we have. Knowledge is important. I think of knowledge and the disciplinary grounding we get in subjects as being key for us. However, skills are a deployment of that knowledge. That is what we need to equip students for in the time to come. We are on a journey. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, documentation talks about "evolution not revolution". We are all in a space with our respective groupings of consulting people on the ground. We are trying to determine what might be best. It is a great place to be. We are looking at a fruitful process and a rich future for the students in our care.


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