Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Leaving Certificate Technology Programme.
I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to raise this matter.
Drimnagh Castle secondary school in Walkinstown is one of the most highly regarded schools in the city of Dublin. It is also one of a small number of schools which undertook to provide the leaving certificate technology programme on a pilot basis as part of the leaving certificate programme.
Technology was a hugely popular subject for junior certificate and five classes were taking it in that school at junior certificate level. When it became an option for the leaving certificate, the school was pleased to be able to offer it to the students. Some 24 students were accepted for the subject in fifth year from a total of 40 applicants. They were literally queuing up to get on to the course but the school felt it could only provide for a class of 24 students. Funding was approved to purchase appropriate equipment and materials to run the course adequately. The first phase of this agreed funding was delivered to the school — so far, so good — but the school should have received the second phase at the beginning of the academic year and it is still waiting for that money to come through. The lack of funding is making it difficult for the school to proceed with confidence with the course.
As it stands, the school is officially only able to provide the equipment to teach at junior certificate level because of the lack of the additional funding that it requires. It is most unfair to the students who are taking this as a leaving certificate subject. Presumably they are depending on the subject for points in their leaving certificate and they are entitled to expect that the full service will be in place for them. In the absence of appropriate funding, the school believes it will be more difficult to deliver the course to the standard expected and to give a fair chance to the students.
Drimnagh Castle is one of the most highly regarded schools in Dublin. It delivers quality teaching to its students and has an excellent academic record. However, without the agreed funding for second phase, it will be extremely difficult to continue its popular technology programme. That would seem to be an incredible waste of resources and effort. The school needs to know when the second phase will be in place. I understand that a further 15 schools are in the same situation.
Every time we speak in this House about development, we refer to the need to promote and support science and technology. We have put huge efforts into encouraging students to take these subjects. We now have a situation in which students are queuing to get onto a technology course but the resources are not being put in place so that the school can guarantee the quality of teaching they have a right to expect. I ask that the second phase of funding be delivered as agreed and without further delay.
Seán Haughey (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Dublin North Central, Fianna Fail)
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I thank Deputy Upton for raising this matter as it provides me with the opportunity to outline to the House the position with regard to the introduction of the leaving certificate technology programme in post-primary schools. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has developed a new syllabus at leaving certificate level for technology. Previously, this subject was only available to junior certificate level. The subject was first introduced in a number of selected post-primary schools in September 2007 and will be examined for the first time by the State Examinations Commission in June 2009.
A technology subjects support service has been established to support schools in the implementation of the new syllabus. The national co-ordinator is supported by a team of assistant national co-ordinators, regional development officers and associate trainers. The introduction of this syllabus is a welcome development and will be an important element for students taking the subject to leaving certificate level.
Fifteen additional schools were invited to introduce the leaving certificate technology syllabus in September 2008 as part of a phased implementation plan. Drimnagh Castle secondary school was one of these 15 schools. The Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Batt O'Keeffe, appreciates that the school is keen to get the funding it needs to allow the full syllabus to be introduced without delay. The implementation of a new subject in the school curriculum requires careful planning and consideration. However, as the Deputy will appreciate, any such expansion in the curriculum can only be carried out in the context of available funding. The Minister is pleased to confirm that the Department was recently in a position to grant aid the second phase of the introduction of leaving certificate technology to support the 15 schools which have introduced this subject. This will allow the schools to teach this subject to students who wish to develop their skills in this very important and developing area. Drimnagh Castle secondary school was among the schools to receive this grant aid and the Minister looks forward to the students in the school being able to pursue the syllabus to leaving certificate level.
Once again I thank the Deputy for providing me with the opportunity to address the House on this matter and to give her some good news.