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 Pádraig O'SullivanPádraig O'Sullivan (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I did not expect to spend all of my time earlier talking about Irish so I am glad to be able to come back in on two further questions. One relates to apprenticeships, which were mentioned. Many of my friends and family members went on to do fabrication, plumbing and so on because we grew up in a highly commercial area in which such businesses were literally on our doorstep. People were attracted to them. However, for some reason, we do not see the same level of attractiveness to students in other areas. What are the witnesses' opinions on that? Do we need to do more in promoting them in schools through guidance counsellors? Should representatives of these industries be invited into schools? I know many do attend exhibitions and so on. How can we make those courses more attractive?

Deputy Conway-Walsh mentioned the difficulty in attracting teachers to disadvantaged schools. As somebody who has taught in a private school and who subsequently spent more than ten years with an education and training board, ETB, I personally never came across that. I would be interested in teasing that out. I think of a colleague of mine, who might not appreciate what I am about to say. When I first started in an ETB school, I was told to lower my expectations as a teacher. I took a bit of offence to that. Perhaps that was there 15 or 20 years ago when I started out teaching but, having grown into my career and having spent ten years in a school which was transformed by the staff, students and parents, growing from 300 students to 800 and becoming the main school in town, I find it hard to marry the comments made to me 15 or 16 years ago with reality. I have seen the example of my own school, which went from strength to strength. Will the witnesses say a word on that, if they do not mind?


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