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Tuesday 6 June 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# leaving cert reform
Plans for LC students to sit Paper 1 at end of fifth year to be deferred
The interim measure led to controversy with teachers’ unions and students.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 28th 2023, 2:58 PM

PLANS FOR LEAVING Cert students to sit Paper 1 in both English and Irish at the end of fifth year are set to be deferred. 

Minister for Education Norma Foley is to bring a memo to Cabinet today setting out the changes. 

Last March, the minister announced that as an “interim measure” students entering fifth year this coming September would sit Paper One in both Irish and English a year earlier at the end of fifth year, instead of sixth year. 

At the time, the minister said the idea was that students will no longer have to face 100% of their exam on one single day in the month of June and aimed to ease pressure on exam candidates.

However, the plan sparked controversy with teachers’ unions and students criticising the move. 

It is understood the minister and officials engaged with stakeholders, student representative groups, and parent representative groups over the last number of months to hear concerns over these proposed interim changes.

Key concerns outlined included the significant disruption that students entering fifth year this September have experienced to their education as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, Minister Norma Foley said that “one of the key components for senior cycle reform has been to embed wellbeing to empower students to give their best in an exam situation and that remains the focus”.

“However, I would acknowledge it and I think we’ve to acknowledge it in society, Covid has had an impact, not just in education but across the wider field. And we take cognizance of that,” Foley said. 

With the plans now deferred, it is understood that over the next few months the minister will examine further when and how to implement this change in light of the concerns raised.

The measure was an interim measure that formed part of the remodelling of the Leaving Cert which the minister announced last year. 

In a joint statement this morning, the TUI and ASTI unions said the deferral is a “welcome development”. 

“We had stated at all times that this was an educationally regressive move that would have increased pressure on students who would have faced a high stakes examination in both fifth and sixth year,” the unions said. 

The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) has also welcomed the planned deferral. 

“There is a sense of relief amongst the cohort of students who were initially planning to sit these exams at the end of fifth year in 2024,” ISSU president Caitlin Faye Maniti said. 

“The ISSU has identified serious concerns for students in regards to this interim measures – the lack of clarity on the logistics, the impact of TY and the fundamental design of the curriculum to be examined at the end of two years,” she said. 

“The ISSU are determined to continue to advocate for a solution that reduces the stress and anxiety for students during their senior cycle journey.” 

Leaving Cert reforms

Minister Foley has also today announced the establishment of the senior cycle redevelopment programme delivery board, which will be responsible for overseeing the Leaving Cert reforms. 

Relevant officials from the Department of Education and its agencies will also attend programme delivery board meetings.

Dr Harold Hislop, former chief inspector of the Department of Education, has been appointed as the independent chair of the board. 

In addition to the programme delivery board, Foley is also establishing the senior cycle redevelopment partners’ forum.

This is a representative stakeholder engagement group that will underpin the collaboration necessary to support implementation and, where appropriate, further developments under the Senior Cycle redevelopment programme.

Separately, Justice Minister Simon Harris will bring the General Scheme of a Bill that will establish a statutory agency for domestic, sexual and gender based violence by 1 January 2024.

The agency will coordinate the implementation of the Government’s Zero Tolerance strategy, and report to the Minister for Justice. 

The agency will also spearhead the delivery of services to victims, including the provision of accommodation, helplines and other supports.  

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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