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Review of junior cycle History recommends it should remain as an optional subject

The minister announced last year that he requested a review into the subject’s status.

History was made an optional subject under reforms in recent years.
History was made an optional subject under reforms in recent years.
Image: Shutterstock/Feng Yu

Updated Sep 25th 2019, 11:15 AM

EDUCATION MINISTER Joe McHugh has received the review from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment recommending that History should remain as an optional subject for the junior cycle. 

The subject was made optional last year under reforms in a number of subjects, sparking concerns among many, including President Michael D Higgins and Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin, over the cultural impact that might have. 

McHugh announced last November that he had requested a review of this decision, at the time saying “we do have to look back at lessons learned”.

A spokesperson for the minister today confirmed that the review was completed earlier this year and given to his department during the summer. 

“That review has been completed and an advisory report was submitted to the minister in the summer. 

“The minister would like to thank the NCCA for their work” he said adding he “is giving the NCCA report full consideration before making a decision.” 

RTÉ reports that the outcome of the review is that the subject should remain optional for the junior cycle. 

The review reportedly points to the 24 statements of learning – four of which are related to History. 

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As it stands, Maths, English, Irish and Well-being are the only core subjects taught at junior cycle level with students with schools deciding what other subjects are made available to them. 

The recent changes allowing for an optional status for subjects like History and Geography come as part of a wider overhaul of subjects and curriculum frameworks within both the junior and senior cycles in secondary schools. 

Deirdre MacMathúna, the President of the History Teachers’ Association of Ireland, said that her organisation was “disappointed but not hugely surprised” by the NCCA review.

“We respect the decision but we will still campaign because we think history is a special case,” she said. 

MacMathúna said that history meets the skills requirements set out by the NCCA. Calling on McHugh to commit to reversing the decision, she asked whether the minister would “take a leap of faith”. 

“Who wants to be the minister going down in history as keeping history in the margins?”

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