The Minister for Education intends to publish a review looking at how to reform the senior cycle and Leaving Certificate exams, by the end of the year.
Norma Foley told post-primary school principals she intends to publish the long-awaited review of the senior cycle, looking at all aspects of senior cycle education, including final exams and mandatory subjects.
An advisory report proposing reforms was presented to Ms Foley earlier this year following intensive consultation with principals, teachers, and students.
That review, carried out by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), looked at a broad range of initiatives.
Ms Foley told a virtual roundtable discussion at the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) annual conference that there is a “unique opportunity” with the reforms.
“I think this is a hugely exciting time in education because we have an opportunity to draw on the best of the system that we have now, but also to be ambitious and to look beyond it, and see how we can enhance it, how we can make it fit for purpose in the 21st century, meeting the needs and demands of students.
“I’m pleased to say it is my intention to publish that review in a short while, certainly before the end of this term,” she added.
“I look forward to the pivotal engagement that would have brought the review to the point that it can be published, that same sense of collaboration and discussion.”
She said later: "I'm very conscious of the need to ensure that we have a senior cycle in place that meets the needs of all students, irrespective of what avenues or pathways forward that they might wish to pursue."
Earlier in the conference, Rachel O’Connor, the incoming president of the NAPD, said the last two years of changes to exams due to Covid-19 have shown there is a massive appetite and capacity for reform.
Ms O’Connor also asked Ms Foley to guarantee that the reform would not simply be a “revamping” of the current Leaving Certificate.
“I feel we’d be missing a big trick there in terms of the juncture that we're at and the opportunity that we have at the moment, to engage in meaningful reform that sets our students up as responsible members of society when they leave second-level.”
Meanwhile, Alan Mongey, a previous NAPD president, told the conference that many students who struggled in isolation over the past 18 months during lockdown have continued to struggle when they have returned to school.
"Prior to Covid even, schools were struggling to support all students in terms of counseling needs in school.
"The NAPD would very much encourage the Department [of Education] to look at the need to address the counselling allocation to schools."