Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

Leaving Certificate Reform: Discussion (Resumed)

Ms Elaine Sheridan:

To build on the point, it is very much the case that the specifications for the past ten to 15 years are less content-based and much more open to allow for critical thinking. It is becoming custom and practice in the classroom. It is like the use of group work and pair work. If we look at the examination paper for politics and society, in particular, and the marking scheme for it, we will see that students are being provided with the opportunity to critically think based on case studies in which they have specialised in the classroom. That is also the case with physical education, and even with history and geography in the mid-2000s, as those new specifications came in.

The space is there. It is not that they are doing too many subjects. It is that the newer specifications, especially those in the past ten years are less content-driven and more about providing opportunities for learning in that critical thinking space. The students attend, sit their examinations and demonstrate that level of engagement with critical thinking in the classroom in their examination scripts, because the exams provide the opportunity and the marking scheme then rewards what the candidate has produced in the script on the day.

There has been a very positive move towards that, which will be built on further and further by having the additional component at school level because that helps the students. It is about their engagement in other activities, such as the Deputy's son today. That is a six-hour exam.