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Ireland's Leaving Cert overhaul: More assessments, new subjects, less focus on written exams

June 03, 2022

Original Article:

Minister for Education Norma Foley has announced major reform of Senior Cycle, including two new subjects, and 40% of grades given for continuous assessment other than written exams.

Two new subjects, Drama, Film and Theatre Studies and Climate Action and Sustainable Development, will be rolled out for fifth-year students in network schools in 2024.

In 2024, these students will also study updated subject curricula, and updated assessment models in the optional subjects of Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Business.

Network schools have been established to provide initial feedback on the new model, to support implementation across all schools and subjects.

Leaving Certificate subjects will have assessments other than the traditional written exam, such as teacher-based assessment, worth 40% of the total marks. The written examination will be worth 60% of the final score.

Other changes include that into the future, Oral examinations and the Music practical performance will take place during the first week of the Easter break of 6th year, as is the case this year.

Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) students will have improved access to Mathematics and Modern Foreign Languages from September 2022, broadening the options for LCA.

For students with special educational needs, a new qualification will be introduced at level one and two on the National Qualification framework to provide an appropriate level of assessment, building on the equivalent programme at Junior Cycle level.

A revised transition year programme will also be established, and greater access to transition year for all students will be encouraged.

The reform programme has been informed by the Senior Cycle Review Advisory Report prepared by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), which was also published today.

The new approach aims to empower students to meet the challenges of the 21st century, enrich the student experience, and reduce student stress levels to improve wellbeing.

“This is an ambitious programme of reform," said Ms Foley.

“It will reduce the pressure on students that comes from final assessments based primarily on examinations. We will move to a model that uses other forms of assessment, over a less concentrated time period, in line with international best practice,” she said.

“Our current system has many strengths. But we know that it can be improved, to better support our students, to reduce pressure while maintaining standards, to keep pace with the changes in practices internationally and to meet the needs and expectations of our students and of our society in preparing our young people for the world ahead,” she added.

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