Students voices' are not 'strong enough' in Leaving Cert reform, says Ombudsman

Students voices' are not 'strong enough' in Leaving Cert reform, says Ombudsman

Dr Muldoon added there was also a need to 'capture and reward students’ diverse learning abilities, and not just their memory'. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Students “do not have a strong voice” when it comes to the Leaving Cert, the Ombudsman for Children is to tell members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education on Tuesday.

In his address to the committee, Dr Niall Muldoon will outline the need to reform the Leaving Cert.

"In 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of Children strongly recommended the reform of the Leaving Certificate due to the disproportionate level of mental stress experienced by young people.

“I believe that, six years on, the State will fail to show any real progress on the implementation of this recommendation,” Dr Muldoon said.

He will tell members that “no changes to the system are expected until 2030”, which is “indicative of the time needed to navigate the complexity of all the vested interests within the education system, among whom the students do not have a strong voice". 

He also added that deliberations and proposals on reform of the Leaving Cert need to “recognise young people as the primary stakeholders” and must put their interests first.

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office endorses the call of the Irish Second-Level Student’s Union for exams to be spaced out and for greater diversity in assessment methods other than terminal exams.

Dr Muldoon added there was also a need to “capture and reward students’ diverse learning abilities, and not just their memory". 

“We need to take this opportunity to create a new and more wide-ranging senior cycle which caters for all of our children, and an exam process which is not just beneficial to those who are aiming for university,” he said.

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