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Jun 18, 2024

State Examinations Commission apologises over delay in Leaving Cert paper

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) is reviewing the circumstances that led to a delay in issuing Leaving Cert exam papers that students sat and has apologised to schools and candidates affected.

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May 27, 2024

Integrity of Leaving and Junior Cert exams to be protected from AI threat, Minister Norma Foley vows

The world-recognised integrity of Ireland's State examination system will be fully protected from any challenge posed by artificial intelligence as Education Minister Norma Foley warned that the country cannot afford to be afraid to harness the benefits offered by AI.

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May 20, 2024

Students can sit Ukrainian language exam at Leaving Cert level from next year

Students will be able to sit an official Leaving Cert exam in Ukrainian from next year. Many adult Ukrainians who have arrived in Ireland since the Russian invasion of their country have teaching qualifications and would be able to teach dedicated classes in their language.

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May 13, 2024

'Gradual' return to normal Leaving Cert results to begin next year

There will be a phased return to normal Leaving Cert results from next year, following years of grade inflation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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May 6, 2024

Two new 'modern' Ireland Leaving Cert subjects to be introduced for secondary school students

Drama, film and theatre studies and climate action and sustainable development are two new school subjects being introduced to secondary school students across Ireland.

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Apr 29, 2024

Leaving Cert students hit out at Government over exam date clash

Leaving Cert students have criticised the Government for holding the local and European elections on one of their exam days.

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Apr 29, 2024

CAO applications for third-level fall, but more than 75,000 Leaving Cert students hoping to get their dream course

More than 75,000 students have applied to the CAO so far this year, a slight drop of 1.4pc on last year. Latest figures show health, arts and business courses are the most popular among applicants.

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Apr 18, 2024

‘Barbie’ and ‘Banshees of Inisherin’ to be on Ireland's Leaving Cert English curriculum in 2026

Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster Barbie movie will be on the Leaving Cert English syllabus by 2026.

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Apr 17, 2024

HSE considers measles catch-up vaccine programme as cases rise

The HSE is considering a catch-up MMR vaccine programme for Leaving Cert and third level students because the country is likely to face a significant measles outbreak.

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Feb 14, 2024

Leaving Cert reform may be delayed over cheat risks

Schools will need to revamp student assessments to cope with the ‘implications’ of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Education Minister Norma Foley has been warned

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Feb 5, 2024

‘Extremely disappointing’ that Leaving Cert oral exams are to go ahead during Easter break

In a circular issued to schools, the State Exams Commission (SEC) confirmed that the oral exams will take place during the Easter break next year.

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Feb 1, 2024

Timing of oral exams for Leaving Cert students is being evaluated

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) is conducting an evaluation to assess the impact of holding Leaving Cert oral exams during the Easter break, following calls to return to pre-pandemic norms.

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Jan 26, 2024

Reformed Leaving Cert subjects less stressful for students, Foley says

Reforms to Leaving Cert subjects, including biology, chemistry, and physics, will allow students to showcase their ability through continuous assessments and reduce exam stress, Education Minister Norma Foley has said.

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Jan 25, 2024

New changes will make it easier for students in the North to attend Irish universities

The recommendations on A-Level exams taken by students in the North have been accepted by Minister Simon Harris.

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Nov 30, 2023

Leaving Cert reforms: Teacher-based assessment dropped due to impact of AI

Norma Foley has suspended plans to have parts of the Leaving Cert assessed by teachers, citing the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on education.

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Nov 30, 2023

Ireland Leaving Cert cheats have 594 grades permanently withheld

The State Exams Commission (SEC) has permanently withheld almost 600 grades from students found to be cheating in their Leaving Certificate over the last 10 years, figures provided to the Irish Examiner show.

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Sep 1, 2023

Ireland Leaving Cert results: Grades adjusted upwards again due to pandemic disruption for students

Over 61,000 students across the country will receive their Leaving Certificate results. For a second year in a row, there was a record-high number of students sitting state examinations.

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Aug 18, 2023

Ireland's Leaving Cert Italian higher level ‘slightly more challenging than recent years’

It may be the second last day of the Leaving Cert, but that doesn’t mean the papers get any easier for the candidates.

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Aug 10, 2023

New path to college as CAO points no longer only route

A new era in college entry opens today, allowing students to apply for degree courses without worrying about CAO points. The shake-up means students can start their degree programme in a college of further education (FE) and complete it in a higher education (HE) institution

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Jul 11, 2023

Record numbers sitting Leaving Cert, Junior Cycle exams

Record numbers will sit this year's Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle exams, which got under way this morning. More than 63,000 candidates have registered for the Leaving Certificate exams, while more than 71,000 are expected to sit Junior Cycle papers.

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Éire (The Republic of Ireland) is located on an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the western coast of England. It is bordered by Northern Ireland, the Irish Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Celtic Sea, and St. George's Channel. The population is 4,156,119 and the literacy rate is 99%. The Irish Constitution states that the Irish language Gaelige is the first official language, and English is the second official language. However, English is the first language of the vast majority of the residents of Ireland, and Gaelige is the first language in a very small area of the country, mostly along the western coast known as the Gaeltacht which encompasses parts of Counties Cork, Donegal, Kerry, Mayo, Meath and Waterford. The study of Gaelige is compulsory for all students from the ages 6 to 16.

The first Celtic tribes arrived in the area of present-day Ireland between 600-150 BC. Norse invasions began in the 8th century and continued until King Brian Boru defeated the Danes in 1014. In the 12th century, the English began to lead invasions on the island which led to centuries of rebellions.

In 1921, the 26 southern counties gained independence, and the 6 northern countries remained a part of the United Kingdom. On December 6, 1922, the Irish Free State was established, and on December 29, 1937, a new Constitution established the Republic of Ireland.

In 1949, Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth, and, in 1973, joined the European Community.


Oversight and Regulation of Education

The Department of Education and Skills is the national government body that oversees education in Ireland. It has direct responsibility for oversight of education through the secondary level.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) oversees the governance and regulation of the higher education system in Ireland, including planning and development in the university sector. Higher education is provided by Universities, Institutes of Technology and Colleges of Education.

The Qualifications and Quality Assurance Ireland (QQI) has responsibility for oversight of the sector of further education and training, which includes postsecondary non-university education and training. QQI quality assures programs and providers in this sector. This function includes the validation of postsecondary programs of study and the awarding of degrees based on study in validated programs at postsecondary institutions that do not have degree-awarding authority. QQI also manages the Irish National Framework of Qualifications and hosts the NARIC Ireland, which facilitates the recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland and advises on the recognition of Irish credentials abroad.

Ain Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna oversees the country's education system.

Primary Education

Education is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 16. Bunscoil (Primary school) is 6 years beginning at age 6. There is no examination or certificate issued at the completion of primary school.

Secondary Education

Free secondary education did not occur until 1967, although free secondary vocational education has been available since 1930. Secondary level education is offered at several types of schools: secondary, vocational, and community and comprehensive schools. Secondary schools are all privately-owned and managed, and receive no state funding. Vocational schools are administered by local Vocational Education Committees, and receive 93% of their funding from the State Community and comprehensive schools are administered by local Boards of Management and receive 100% of their funding from the State. They combine academic and technical education.

The Timthriall Sóisareach (Junior Cycle) is 3 years. Upon completion, students sit for the Teastas Sóisearach (Junior Certificate) examination which is an external examination. Most subjects on the exams are offered at 2 levels: ordinary or higher, and a few offer a third “foundation” level. Students generally sit for 5 subject examinations.

Some students opt for a Idirbhliain (“Transition Year”) at the end of Junior Cycle. It is compulsory at some schools, but is optional at most. The curriculum is determined by the local schools and always includes a work experience. The Transition Year is becoming more popular every year.

The Timthriall Shinsearach (Senior Cycle) is 2 years and has general and vocational options. The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme was introduced in 1989, and the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme was introduced in 1995 for students whose needs are not met by the Leaving Certificate and Leaving Certificate Vocational Programmes. Students in vocational and applied programs have a work experience as part of their program. Upon completion of the Senior Cycle, students sit for one of 3 external examinations: Teastas Shinsearach (Leaving Certificate), Leaving Certificate Vocational, or Leaving Certificate Applied, depending on their program of study. Students sit for 6 subjects on the Leaving Certificate examination, including Irish. The Leaving Certificate Vocational examination is similar to the Leaving Certificate examination, but it includes a high vocational content. Students sit for 5 subjects, including 2 vocational subjects. The Leaving Certificate Applied examination prepares students for adult and working life. It does not lead to post-secondary study.

The results of Leaving Certificate examinations determine where students will study at the post-secondary level as well as State higher education scholarship eligibility.

Post-Secondary Education

There are many post-secondary opportunities in Ireland, and more than 55% of secondary school graduates go on for further study. The first university, the University of Dublin, was established in 1592 and is best known for Trinity College. Queen's University was established in 1849 as the country's second university. The National University of Ireland, with constituent colleges University College Dublin (UCD), University College Cork (UCC) and University College Galway (UCG), was established in 1908. By 1967, the need for non-university, post-secondary education was recognized, and regional technical colleges (now known as institutes of technology), including the Dublin Institute of Technology, were created.

First Cycle

Admission to undergraduate programs at State post-secondary institutions is coordinated by the Central Applications Office (CAO) based on points earned on the various Leaving Certificate examinations. On the application, students list up to 10 preferred post-secondary courses. Universities do not require and do not extend admission interviews. Many private institutions are now also a part of the CAO. Admission to graduate programs is handled by the institution directly.

Institutes of technology and regional colleges offer programs in applied fields of study, including business, engineering, computer science, art, design, science, hotel management, nursing, arts, and humanities. Two-year programs lead to a Higher Certificate, three-year programs lead to Bachelor's (Ordinary) and four-year programs lead to the Bachelor's (Honours) diploma. Until June 2006, institutes of technology offered a 2-year National Certificate and a 3-year National Diploma. The National Diploma could also be completed in 1 year following a National Certificate.

There are 4 universities supported by the State: The National University of Ireland, the University of Dublin, the University of Limerick, and Dublin City University. A fifth university, St. Patrick's College Maynooth, is supported and recognized by the Vatican. All diplomas for programs completed at a constituent college of the National University of Ireland (NUI) as well as the National University of Ireland Galway and the National University of Ireland Maynooth are issued by NUI and not by the constituent college.

Undergraduate programs are 3 - 4 years, depending on the field of study. Three-year programs award a Bachelor's (Ordinary) and four-year programs award a Bachelor's (Honours).

Second and Third Cycle

Graduate programs include a 1-year Postgraduate Diploma, and master's programs that are 1 - 2 years of study and require defense of a thesis. Doctoral programs include the Doctor of Philosophy which requires 3 years of study and defense of a dissertation, and the Doctor of Science (DSc) and the Doctor of Literature (D.Litt.) which require 4 years of study and defense of a dissertation.

Teacher Training

Primary school teachers are trained in a 3-year program leading to a Bachelor of Education at one the 5 teacher training colleges in Ireland, although some colleges may offer a 4-year Bachelor of Education (Honours) program. The 4th year is taken part-time while the students are full-time teachers. The majority of secondary school teachers are trained in the “consecutive” model of training. In this model, students must hold a bachelor's degree and then enroll in a one-year training program leading to a Higher Diploma in Education. The other option is the “concurrent” model which is generally taken by students who will be teaching applied subjects such as home economics, art, physical education, etc. In this model, students take extensive coursework in their proposed field of teaching as well as teacher education coursework. This is a 4-year program leading to a Bachelor of Education (Honours).



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