Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

Leaving Certificate Reform: Discussion with School Management Bodies

Photo of Aisling DolanAisling Dolan (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the witnesses. This meeting has been excellent and there has been so much interesting content. I have been interested in how there are been many similar topics that have been raised, across the board, between all of the groups that have presented before us. From what I can tell, some similar topics that have jumped out of me are around the digital section. I must admit I was impressed. I think it was Mr. John Irwin who mentioned that students can do Polish as a first language. Online access meant teachers were available to those students, which is excellent. It is interesting to note that the new Irish, the people who have come to Ireland and whose mother tongue may not be English, are being accommodated.

I am curious about the digital learning content. We heard about equality in access, inequity and people who may not have digital devices in the home. I am interested in that because I understand between 20% and 25% of adults have literacy difficulties.

We are also looking at the digital divide. It is incredible to think that maybe 50% of adults over the age of 18 would have a lot of difficulty trying to manage this new digital world in which we find ourselves and which has definitely ramped up big time in the past two years.

I have a question for whoever spoke about the ETBs and the links I think he mentioned with further education and training. We spoke about not only different types of stigma to do with DEIS schools and so on but also the stigma surrounding the types of careers one can have after school and what satisfaction and well-being look like. We really need to tackle those things hard. When it comes to DEIS, children should have access to education and be able to achieve their maximum potential. That will be the goal of what we deliver here when it comes to a reform of the leaving certificate. We should allow students to achieve their maximum potential such that we also prepare them and our society for the world that lies ahead of us.

One witness spoke very well about analytical skills. I apologise - I am trying to remember who mentioned them. It was Mr. Crone, perhaps. History is my background. I think he mentioned that his is maths. Analysis and analytical skills are extremely important. I ask the witnesses to give just one or two points as to which areas we could look at to achieve that in a senior cycle.


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