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. Paul Crone:

I thank the Deputy for his question. There are two elements to this. I will reverse the bus up to when I applied to be a teacher many years ago and was brought down to Thomond College of Education as an aspiring woodwork teacher. I was interviewed by the college to determine my suitability for the course once I had reached a certain level of educational achievement. I also had to undertake a level of competence assessment in Irish to determine that competence because at the time one needed the Ceard Teastas Gaeilge. At that time, there was a whole parallel entry.

If one looks at the international models such as the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, UCAS, system in the UK, that is a model where students go through a process of applying to the third level institution. Many of our students here are availing of those opportunities in England because of the competition here. Just because a person is able to get 625 points does not necessarily mean that they will make the best doctor. At the same time, we should try to select the students based on their aptitude, interests and abilities and there is a process there that needs to be engaged in. Many of our students who apply to colleges abroad will come back to us in our schools in April or May and say that they have been offered places subject to their gaining certain levels of academic achievement. It is a dual process. At the moment, we rely solely on the mathematical algorithm which has led to many media reports of people not getting the courses that they wanted because it is down to random selection, whereas there could be a process around suitability and this area, administered, perhaps, by the colleges and universities. That process exists in further education but does not yet exist in higher education.