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 Irwin:

I agree with the first item Mr. Curtis came to. Students enjoy the social aspect of school and it is an important element of school. They also like the extracurricular aspect, where they feel they have the opportunity to engage in particular aspects of school life where they can flourish. These may not be part of the strict curriculum in its own sense. They want to belong. They want a community in which they feel reflected.

The other witnesses have mentioned that students want flexibility and options. In this line, we very much support the second and third components and more diverse forms of learning. An interesting statistic that Mr. Crone brought out at the beginning is the NAPD survey, which found that 83% of leaving certificate students said the exam in June, and the leaving certificate as it is currently, is not the way they want it. We have to take this on board. I agree that some form of assessment, which is far more diverse and will recognise a greater variety of skills and components to allow students to flourish and succeed and to demonstrate their skills rather than just the academic rigour of the exams in June, is important. Hence we will look at second and third components.

Something we have found with a number of students is that the LCA is siloed. This pillar is completely distinct from the traditional leaving certificate. There are students doing the LCA who would love to be able to do some leaving certificate subjects and get a qualification in the leaving certificate. The LCA is completely undervalued. People can progress into further education through the post-leaving certificate colleges but the pathways are restricted. The option should be available to do components of the LCA and components of the traditional leaving certificate. The vocational groupings in the LCVP have to go. They restrict those who access these particular programmes and the practical life skills involved in LCVP. Students want options, choice and a sense of belonging in their own schools.


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