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 all found out over the past couple of years about students is that fundamentally they wanted to be in school. It was not just for academic reasons but for the sense of community they have there. This is hugely important and we should not underestimate it or the work done by all of our school communities in accordance with their own ethos in looking after the welfare of the students in their care as best they can. This community dynamic is hugely important. This is what pupils missed most during the pandemic.

I concur with some of the points my colleagues have made. Students want choice and flexibility and for their own skills sets and enthusiasms to be catered for in what we offer in schools. We spoke about this earlier. They are keen on continuous assessment and it seems to work. This presents us with issues we need to think about in the context of what we do with continuous assessment and how we might bring it about and how we borrow the best from the leaving certificate applied, LCA, the leaving certificate vocational programme, LCVP, transition year and second component course work. When we need to reflect on how best to do this. Certainly an element of continuous assessment is what students want. We have to be careful that we do not create more stress points in the senior cycle. At present we have one huge stress point, which is the leaving certificate examination. We do not want to have a load of mini stress points scattered during the leaving certificate cycle, which add more stress. We have to keep an eye on this also. What does continuous assessment mean? We have to bring it in in a way that is cognisant of the well-being of the students. There is plenty to think about. Mr. Flood has done a lot of work on the junior cycle. What is key as well is that UL is doing a review of the junior cycle. We need to reflect on this and try to translate the learnings from it and from the new methodologies and assessment methods in determining how best to manage senior cycle reform.


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