NEW SUBJECTS are to be introduced to the Leaving Certificate curriculum, with students also sitting some examinations in fifth year, under changes that have been announced today by the Minister for Education.
The changes will reduce the reliance on final examinations and introduce teacher-based assessment components, and see the content of existing subjects be updated. As subjects are revised, these new components will make up 40% of the total marks of students' final scores.
Two new subjects - Drama, Film and Theatre Studies, and Climate Action and Sustainable Development - will also be ready for students in 'network schools' starting fifth year in 2024.
These schools will be representative of the different types of sized of schools and will receive support through a variety of forms to enable their participation.
Students entering fifth year in these schools will begin studying updated curricula, with updated assessment models in the optional subjects of Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Business.
Also, "to ensure a positive impact as soon as possible," a statement from government said, Leaving Cert students entering senior cycle in September 2023 will sit Paper 1 in English and Irish at the end of that academic year.
Leaving Certificate Applied students will also have improved access to Mathematics and Modern Foreign Languages from September of this year.
The changes seek to provide 'Equity and Excellence for All', with the three tenets being to empower students to meet the challenges of the 21st century, enrich student experiences to build on what's strong in the current system, and embed wellbeing and reduce student stress levels.
Speaking at the announcement of the new plan, Minister Norma Foley TD said the changes 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," she continued. "We will move to a model that uses other forms of assessment, over a less concentrated time period, in line with international best practice."
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 views of students and teachers will also be heard in the co-creation process for the changes.
Speaking about the current Leaving Cert system, Foley said "we know that it can be improved, to better support our students, to recuse pressure while maintaining standards, to keep paces 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 said the review by the NCCA is based on "extensive research, conducted over four years."
"It captures the views of education partners across every aspect of senior cycles, giving real weight to the student voice and experience, the learnings of educators, the international experience."
A revised Transition Year programme will be established, and greater access to Transition Year for all students will be encouraged.
A new qualification will also be introduced at level one and two on the National Qualification framework to provide an appropriate level of assessment to some students with special education needs, building on the equivalent programme at Junior Cycle level.