Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 2 November 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills
Leaving Certificate Reform: Discussion (Resumed)
Dr. John O'Connor:
On when you make the choice and who makes it, the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, did some work six or eight years ago indicating that second year was particularly important. It is not necessarily that the student makes the decision but that the rest of the system makes the decision for the student as to whether he or she is on an academic track. That may be too early to make the decision and there is a question of whether that is an informed decision by the individual. You hear different experiences anecdotally around transition year based on the school and the individual. It does seem to be a really useful opportunity. A lot of useful learning happens in transition year. I do not think we make the best of it. Deputy Conway-Walsh struck on something earlier, namely, the idea of a vocational education and training pathway. In school, in further education and in training and higher education, you could take engineering, nursing, teaching or law and look at what that pathway looks like and at what the role is for secondary education in that pathway. That goes to the point in guidance too. It is about when you can see a pathway and there are assurances along that path that if I can strike that path and can get taster elements of it in the school system, it will lead across further education, into higher education and professional qualifications if I desire. In some ways, we are zooming out away from the leaving certificate and looking at what vocational education and training looks like in Ireland.