Written answers

Thursday, 13 July 2023

Department of Education and Skills

School Curriculum

Photo of Réada CroninRéada Cronin (Kildare North, Sinn Fein)
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376. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills whether her Department will make a new commitment to the position of history on the curriculum, such subject being critical to giving a student a necessary level of continuum and context vis-à-vis current and emerging situations, globally, therefore facilitate a citizen in making a deeper and more reflective response; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35220/23]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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The importance of history is reflected across the curricula at both primary and post-primary level.

At primary level, history is taught to all learners and is included in the Social, Environmental and Scientific Education Curriculum which recognises that a broad and balanced understanding of history is essential if a child is to become a confident, informed, critical and responsible adult member of society. Providing a rounded historical education reflects the nature of history itself: firstly, it is concerned with knowledge and interpretations of the lives of people in the past, and secondly, it enables children to experience something of the way in which historians go about their work.

Through exploring the past in this way, children can acquire knowledge and concepts while simultaneously developing important skills and attitudes appropriate to their individual stages of development. History at primary school covers the following curricular areas:

The Lives of People in the Past

  • Local Studies
  • National and International History
  • Working as a Historian
The full primary curriculum is undergoing review and redevelopment by the NCCA, which has seen the launch of the Primary Curriculum Framework in March this year. As developments progress, curriculum specifications will be developed for the five curriculum areas and their associated subjects with toolkits provided to support learning, teaching, and assessment. History will be taught as part of Social and Environmental Education under the new primary curriculum. As part of the development process each curriculum area will undergo a public consultation process in 2024. It is anticipated that the new curricula will be available in the 2025/2026 school year.

Under the Framework for Junior Cycle (2015), students were initially required to study the subjects of English, Irish and Mathematics, with maximum of seven other optional subjects, or a smaller number if they chose to study some of the new short courses developed by the NCCA. Subsequent to the NCCA’s report on History’s status within the Framework, the decision was made by my predecessor to afford History a special core status. Accordingly, since September 2020, all post-primary schools have been required to offer History as a Junior Cycle subject and all students entering first year are required to study History as part of the curriculum.

In addition, the NCCA has developed a short course in History for certain students with general learning difficulties/needs which it is intended will be made available from September 2023.

Students taking the established Leaving Certificate programme must take at least five subjects, English, Mathematics and Irish are the core subjects for all students. Except for those students who have an exemption from Irish. Typically, students take six or seven subjects. The range of subjects offered in an individual school is a matter for the school. The range of subjects offered will vary in accordance with the teaching resources in the school and the needs and interests of the students. History is one of a number of optional subjects offered by schools.

On 29 March 2022 I announced an ambitious programme of work for a re imagined Senior Cycle of education where the student is at the centre of their Senior Cycle experience which will:
  • 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 wellbeing and reduce student stress levels
The redeveloped Senior Cycle includes the development of new and revised subject specification for all subjects. I have asked the NCCA to publish by September 2023 a schedule of dates by which individual subject curricula will be completed.


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