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Statement from Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon on the publication of NCCA Review

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO), welcomes the Department of Education publication of the long awaited National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) Senior Cycle review. Speaking following the announcement by Minister Foley, the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon said:

“I am happy to see that proposed changes to the curriculum will allow for students to demonstrate their ability throughout the two year Senior Cycle rather than results coming down to performance on one exam, on one day. I am also pleased to see a more integrated approach to learning that allows for continuous assessment in the classroom of 40%. This diminution of the importance of the terminal exam is something I have been calling for over a number of years and it is in line with calls from the ISSU for exams to be spaced out and for greater diversity in assessment methods. There is no doubt that this will go a long way to taking the pressure off for many.

Students who require SEN support will also be supported to Leaving Certificate which is very positive. The addition of new subjects that reflect the interests of young people and anticipate the future needs of society is a good thing.

“I also welcome the proposed timeline which will see some of these changes implemented in the next two years. However further clarity is needed on when all these changes will become real in all schools across the country. Every year these changes are delayed have implications for the 60,000 students sitting their Leaving Certificate.

“If implemented, the changes outlined in this review will take us one step closer to the education system of the future which puts students first. I look forward to seeing these plans progress and would encourage all education partners to come to this process with children’s best interests as their priority.

“It is noteworthy that there are no corresponding plans for changes to the CAO system which, as we know drives demand for particular courses, and does not always match skills, interests or ability with the right courses. I am seeking a meeting with the Minister for Further and Higher Education to discuss this issue as I believe that in order for changes to the Leaving Certificate to be meaningful, the third level, apprenticeship and training system should recognise what students have achieved.”