Thursday, 12 May 2022
Department of Education and Skills
As the Deputy is aware, on 29 March I announced an ambitious programme of work for a reimagined Senior Cycle of education where the student is at the centre of their Senior Cycle experience. I set out a clear vision for Senior Cycle, building upon the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment’s (NCCA’s) Advisory Report. The NCCA’s review of senior cycle involved an extensive range of research, consultations and communications with a wide range of stakeholders, including teachers.
The three tenets of Senior Cycle reform are to:
- Empower students to meet the challenges of the 21st century
- Enrich the student experience and build on what’s strong in our current system
- Embed well-being and reduce student stress levels
Introducing significant change at Senior Cycle needs to be thought through carefully and it is essential to ensure that the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), State Examinations Commission (SEC), the Department and schools can work through the changes with all stakeholders over a sustained period of time.
I have requested the NCCA to invite a selection of schools, representative of the different types and sizes of schools across Ireland, to become “network schools”. In order to successfully deliver on the vision I have set out, we need to partner with schools to trial, evaluate, learn, adjust and succeed.
Network schools will be given the opportunity to participate at an early stage in revised curriculum and assessment arrangements. These schools will receive support through a variety of forms to enable their participation. The network school approach will allow the curriculum and assessment arrangements to be co-constructed with students and their teachers allowing specific aspects of these proposals to be progressed and evaluated.
It will be important to carefully manage this work so that students in these schools, or in other schools, would not be disadvantaged in any way and this will be an important consideration during the delivery phase of the reforms I have announced.
I have also announced a number of more immediate actions. Bearing in mind the significant assessment load at the end of sixth year, and to ensure a positive impact on students as soon as possible, as an interim measure I have asked the SEC to immediately alter the timing of Paper One in both Irish and English so that Paper One would take place at the end of fifth year commencing for fifth years entering fifth year in September 2023.
It is also my intention that in the future Oral examinations and the Music practical performance will take place during the first week of the Easter break of 6th year as was the case this year. The advice of the SEC on the implementation of these changes on a permanent basis, following an evaluation of the arrangements in 2022 by the SEC, will be duly considered in this regard.
To enhance students’ options further, Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) students will have improved access to Mathematics and Modern Foreign Languages from September 2022, broadening the options for LCA students.
A Senior Cycle Programme Delivery Board will be established which will have responsibility for overseeing the achievement of actions forming part of this suite of reforms. A detailed implementation plan will be developed through ongoing collaboration and co-creation and consultation with education partners, including teachers, students, school leaders and parents.