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ISSU calls for urgent reform of Leaving Cert

Posted by Schooldays Newshound, on 05/10/2021. ISSU calls for urgent reform of Leaving CertTags: Parenting Education And Politics

Emer Neville, Uachtarán of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU), is presenting before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science on Leaving Certificate reform, today.

In her opening statement, Neville refers to the Leaving Certificate as a “national affair” and urgently calls for a “complete overhaul of the Leaving Certificate”

“It is clear to us that students do not want a return to the traditional leaving certificate. We can no longer continue to put plasters on a completely broken system, the solution is clear and that is a complete overhaul of the leaving certificate.”

The statement highlighted three main points, Assessments Options, Access to Third-level and Irish Language and Irish Medium Education, outlining what students wish to see from the future of the state exam. .

Changes the ISSU call for

Emer, on behalf of the ISSU brings three points to the Committee, from the perspective of second-level students of Ireland. They are:

  • One, that assessment methods need to change in order to accommodate more diverse skills of students, and with an aim to alleviate the stress that is created by a high-pressure exam schedule at the end of two years of education.

  • Two, that access routes to higher education must be addressed in a holistic way alongside discussing examination reform, and more investment to promote equality. The ISSU notes that Ireland ranks 38th out of 38 of the OECD member countries for educational spending.

  • And three, on the subject of Irish language and Irish medium education, that further curricular reform is necessary, in order to increase emphasis on oral Irish.

Emer further proposes three changes to assessment methods for Senior Cycle:

  • One, to space out exams, and even have separate examination periods, in order to reduce undue pressure on students’ health and well-being while being examined for their learning achievements.

  • Two, to promote more diverse examination and assessment methods, other than terminal exams which test fact-regurgitation and ability to write under time pressure. We would like to note additionally on this point that the current structure of senior cycle examinations particularly favours students with access to private tutoring services over students who do not, whose families cannot afford such supports, which is unfair.

  • And lastly, to implement assessments throughout the leaving cert cycle, which may capture and reward students’ diverse learning abilities, and not just their memory.

University and Choices

Since progression to university is emphasised as a top achievement throughout education, access to further education and other post-secondary options are perceived as less valuable and less of an achievement. In reality, university education is not the only tool for achieving success in your life and future career. However, since the points system is the only mechanism for measuring students’ achievements, it is clear to see why some students who achieve lower points or miss out on a university place by a small margin feel like they have failed in their second-level education.

The ISSU proposes three changes to the system of access to higher education in order to
address these concerns:

  • One, to overhaul the points system alongside an overhaul of the assessment methods, to allow students to gain points through a variety of assessment opportunities and not only terminal exams.

  • Two, to allow students to gain points or other forms of recognition through extracurricular achievements when applying to further and higher education, while of course ensuring that opportunities to take part in such additional activities are available in an equitable manner to all students who may wish to take part in them.

  • And three, to greatly increase the number of university admission places through access routes and normalise PLC courses, apprenticeship programs and other forms of further and higher education. The goal should be to reduce the competition of the points race and to support students to have an equal opportunity to attend higher education, and finally address the unacceptable inequality of outcome which is perpetuated under the current points-race system.

Irish Language

The ISSU conclude by asking that the Committee consider a curricular reform which would promote the use of Irish as a living language would be beneficial, and welcomed by students. They state from consultations with students, there is a strong preference for oral Irish and using Irish in daily life, rather than through poetry and more complex literature.
In conclusion, the ISSU will be asking the committee to seriously consider the complete reform of the Leaving Certificate to ensure it includes all students of all abilities and to normalise every path that can be taken post examination.



(09/10/2021 00:11)

I think the current leaving cert class have been abandoned to now go sit the traditional leaving cert despite missing nearly six months class time and are being left to compete with this year’s massive grade inflation

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