Major reform of the Senior Cycle welcomed by Cork principals

The major reform is to be introduced starting with fifth-year students in pilot schools in 2024
Major reform of the Senior Cycle welcomed by Cork principals

The major reform which includes two new subjects Drama, Film and Theatre Studies; and Climate Action and Sustainable Development, is to be introduced starting with fifth-year students in pilot schools in 2024 and 40% of grades for continuous assessment other than written exams was announced by the Minister Foley yesterday.

“IT is more student-friendly and less pressurised,” said De La Salle College, Macroom principal John Murphy after the Minister of Education announced a major reform of the Senior Cycle.

The major reform which includes two new subjects Drama, Film and Theatre Studies; and Climate Action and Sustainable Development, is to be introduced starting with fifth-year students in pilot schools in 2024 and 40% of grades for continuous assessment other than written exams was announced by the Minister Foley yesterday.

Other highlights of the reform include: New curricula to be introduced for subjects across Senior Cycle, updating subject content.; Leaving Certificate Established students entering Senior Cycle in September 2023 will sit Paper 1 in English and Irish at the end of fifth year; a new qualification will be introduced at level one and two on the National Qualification framework to provide an appropriate level of assessment to some students with special educational needs, building on the equivalent programme at Junior Cycle level and a revised Transition Year programme will be established, and greater access to Transition Year for all students will be encouraged.

It is also intended that oral examinations and the Music practical performance will take place during the first week of the Easter break of sixth year.

De La Salle College school principal John Murphy said: “Overall, it is positive. It is more student friendly and less pressurised. New additional subjects as choices are always welcome however they would need to be met with an additional reduction in the pupil/teacher ratio,” he said.

Mr Murphy welcomed that written examinations will be worth no more than 60% of a student's final Leaving Certificate marks. 

“I would welcome as it would reduce the pressure on students. It needs to be supported and funded to ensure it can be put in place appropriately.” 

The principal of Bandon Grammar School Ian Coombes said reform is long overdue. 

“It is long overdue that there will be a real re-think of the whole exam structure. There is a lot of arranging to be done in the next few months but hopefully, it does get pushed through in some format.” 

Minister Foley said: “This is an ambitious programme of reform. It will enrich students’ educational experience by increasing their choices to match their interests and enhancing teaching and learning. It will reduce the pressure on students that comes from final assessments based primarily on examinations.” 

Solidarity TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry said: “While I welcome the introduction of the two new subjects, I’m disappointed that the Government have chosen to repackage the exam rather than scrap it. I still favour opening up third level to all who want to go there by investing heavily in it.” 

 The reforms are to be phased in gradually over a few years.

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