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 Pauline O'ReillyPauline O'Reilly (Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I thank the witnesses. I also thank the Chairman for bringing forward the work we are doing on leaving certificate reform. It is critical and fits into a broader conversation about reform in general in the education system.

I will return to the topic raised by Deputy Jim O'Callaghan on assessment. On one side of the equation, we could have no assessment and, on the other side, we could continue with the kind of assessment we have. I am closer to the view that we should have no assessment and see what we can do to achieve that, and that only in extreme cases should we use the kind of assessment we are doing at the moment. From talking to young people, my experience is that they switch off when something is forced upon them. That is what I see. I do not know if that is the experience of witnesses. What are their thoughts on self-assessment and doing something that is based purely on the needs of an individual course and the individual interest of a student?

The next point I will raise may not, strictly speaking, be related to leaving certificate reform but it is critical to it. I refer to the workload young people have and the stress and pressure they experience, which carries home from school. There is an argument for not having homework. Children are in school for a long period and I sometimes wonder why there are not enough hours in the school day for them to do the work in school and to provide some kind of respite outside of that away from academic work. I would like to know the thoughts of the witnesses on ending homework.

I completely agree with the kind of approach that has been talked about based on project work. That is what happens in other jurisdictions. Rather than having homework and ticking off each subject, it is about having a more holistic kind of project that might bring everything in and the learning is done in a holistic way. That is the way learning happens in the real world, so why not have young people learning in that way as well?


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