Teachers and students criticise plans for Leaving Cert reform

Government have announced plans to carry out certain Leaving Certificate exams during fifth year

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) have voiced their concerns over the government’s intention to examine students on paper one of the Leaving Certificate English and Irish courses at the end of fifth year.

The union, which represents over 19,000 teachers, expressed its concern around the proposal stating that “such an educationally unsound move would pile significant additional pressure on students and teachers”.

The union also expressed its concern that the introduction of “high stakes” exams at the end of fifth year would result in students being underprepared in other subjects such as maths as a result of their efforts to prepare for paper one of the English and Irish exams.

Representatives of the union, as well as the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU), held a conference last weekend to discuss education reform.

Prior to the conference, ISSU Uachtarán (president) Caitlin Faye Maniti said: “The ISSU has always advocated for Leaving Certificate reform but the proposed changes are neither an adequate nor comprehensive enough solution to tackle the problems surrounding the Leaving Certificate exams and we do not see this leading to better outcomes for students.”

While the exact details of their discussion are unknown, the unions agreed that “significant further engagement between the Department [of Education] and the stakeholders is required to ensure that reform is educationally sound and benefits all learners”.

When asked for his opinion on the government’s intention to examine Paper One of his subject in fifth year, English teacher Alan O’Connor stated “one cannot separate language from literature, which is what this will do”.

O’Connor also voiced his belief that students had not asked for this move and that the government should be focussed on more meaningful reform.

The country’s other prominent second level teachers’ union, Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI), also criticised Minister for Education Norma Foley’s proposal to carry out state exams during fifth year.

Alan Nolan Wilson

Alan Nolan Wilson is the current News Analysis Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister Geography and History student. He previously served as Correspondent for College.