Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

Leaving Certificate Reform: Discussion (Resumed)

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Deputy Jim O'Callaghan's comments on the leaving certificate are very fair. The leaving certificate has its successes and for certain professions and people who wish to go a certain way in life, it works extremely well. Even for those for whom it works well - students who do extremely well in it - the sense I get from many of them is that they wished they had been exposed to other skills. I am conscious that teachers would make the point that schools cannot do everything and are under considerable pressure.

While I do not wish to stray too much into the Department of Education's space, I also agree with the Deputy's point about when a young adult in secondary school is, to use the Deputy's word, "exposed" or perhaps given an opportunity to sample vocational skills within the second level system. That does not really happen, with the exception of schools that do it off their own bat or in the transition year programme where it may happen in an ad hoc, non-structured and non-credentialled way.

Our suggestion is that we need to broaden the options so that the conversation changes at 16 and 17 and a student does not only see the traditional CAO form but also FET courses and asks what certain courses are and whether there is a different way available if he or she does not get the points for law. For example, should someone sample law by doing a pre-law course, to use the Deputy's profession as an example. Can students sample in transition year by micro-credentialling elements and allowing them to try something out for a few months? As the FET strategy says, can we introduce taster programmes in apprenticeships at transition year? The answer to all of those questions is "Yes", but we need to do this in a way that is tied in with the NCCA review and the work the Minister, Deputy Foley, will be doing.


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