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An Chomhairle Náisiúnta Curaclaim agus Measúnachta
National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

Reviewing with schools

Keep up to date on our work with schools to review senior cycle education

In initiating a review of senior cycle education, the NCCA are working with 41 collaborating schools  to generate a shared vision for senior cycle and a strong base from which to shape a curriculum that genuinely meets the needs of all learners for years to come. 

This approach features two consultative cycles of thematic discussions about senior cycle education with the collaborating schools. The first cycle will focus on the purpose of Senior Cycle and thinking about the future, while the second cycle will explore pathways and flexibilities in Senior Cycle. Each cycle will begin as a school-based discussion, but will then widen out to conclude with a national seminar involving representatives from the collaborating schools and the education partners. A summary report of the main findings of each cycle will be produced and published after each national seminar.

Further details on the process, research questions and how to have your say can be found below.

  • Collaborating schools
    • Selection process

      The selection process was supported by the following management bodies: 

      • Joint Managerial Body (JMB)
      • Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS)
      • National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education (NABMSE)
      • Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI)

      Using the selection criteria identified below, and in keeping with national statistics related to these criteria, the initial list of schools was considered, and a final 41 schools were selected.  The selection criteria used to ensure as representative a spread as possible was:

      • DEIS status
      • Gender
      • School type
      • School size
      • Geographical location
      • Language of instruction.
    • Profile of group of schools

      The tables below set out the profile of schools included in the representative sample, and where possible compare the figures for the sample to available national statistics.  

        

      Secondary 

      ETB  

      C and C  

      Special 

      DEIS  

      National % 

      54 

      34 

      12 

        

      29

      % of 40 selected schools 

      53.6 

      29 

      12 

      4.8 

      29 

      Number of selected schools 

      22 

      12 

      12 

        

        

      Mixed  

      Boys  

      Girls  

      Gaeilge 

      National % 

      67 

      14 

      19 

      6.7 

      % of 40 selected schools 

      61 

      17 

      21 

      9.7 

      Number of selected schools 

      25 

        

      Dublin  

      Non-Dublin 

      13 schools 

      28 schools 

      31%  

      69%  

    • List of schools

      School 

      Address 

      County 

      Alexandra College 

      Milltown 

      Dublin 

      Ardscoil Rís 

      North Circular Road 

      Limerick 

      Athlone Community College 

      Athlone 

      Westmeath 

      Athy College 

      Athy 

      Kildare 

      Ballincollig Community School 

      Balincollig 

      Cork 

      Beech Hill College 

      Tirkeenan 

      Monaghan 

      Catherine McAuley School 

      South Circular Road  

      Limerick 

      CBS Synge Street 

      Synge Street  

      Dublin 

      Coláiste Chroí Mhuire 

      An Spidéal 

      Galway 

      Coláiste Éinne 

      Inis Mór, Árainn, 

      Galway 

      Crana College 

      Buncrana 

      Donegal 

      Cross and Passion College 

      Kilcullen 

      Kildare  

      Dunshaughlin Community College 

      Dunshaughlin 

      Meath 

      Fingal Community College 

      Swords 

      Dublin 

      Gaelcholaiste Ceatharlach 

      Askea 

      Carlow 

      Gaelcholáiste Charraig Uí Leighin 

      Carrigaline 

      Cork 

      Good Counsel College 

      New Ross 

      Wexford 

      Holy Family School 

      Cootehill 

      Cavan  

      Killarney Community School 

      Killarney 

      Kerry 

      Loreto Abbey 

      Dalkey 

      Dublin  

      Loreto Secondary School 

      Balbriggan 

      Dublin 

      Mercy College

      Coolock

      Dublin

      Mount St. Michael 

      Claremorris 

      Mayo  

      Mount Temple Comprehensive 

      Clontarf 

      Dublin 

      North Wicklow Educate Together 

      Bray 

      Wicklow  

      Portmarnock Community School 

      Portmarnock 

      Dublin 

      Presentation Secondary School 

      Warrenmount 

      Dublin 

      Ringsend College 

      Ringsend 

      Dublin 

      St. Angela’s Secondary 

      Ballytruckle 

      Waterford   

      St. Brendan’s College 

      Killarney 

      Kerry 

      St. Joseph’s Secondary School 

      Drogheda 

      Louth 

      St. Joseph’s Secondary School 

      Rush 

      Dublin 

      St. Louis Community School 

      Claremorris 

      Mayo  

      St. Mark’s Community School 

      Tallaght 

      Dublin 

      St. Mary’s Academy CBS 

      Rathnapish 

      Carlow 

      St. Mary’s Secondary School 

      Portlaoise 

      Laois 

      St. Vincent’s Secondary School 

      Dundalk 

      Louth  

      Stepaside Educate Together School  

      Stepaside  

      Dublin 

      Scoil Iosaf 

      Tulla 

      Clare 

      Scoil Ruain 

      Thurles 

      Tipperary  

      Ursuline College 

      Sligo  

      Sligo  

    • Frequently asked questions
  • If you wish to participate

    In addition to the work being carried out by the 41 collaborating schools, NCCA would welcome and greatly appreciate wider involvement of schools, or others,  in the review of senior cycle. This may take the form of:  

    • sharing/disseminating any information on the review 
    • facilitating discussions among staff/parents/students to provide us with feedback
    • participating in the final consultation in March-May, 2019.

     

    If you or your school would like to participate in some or all of the review, please access the school, parent and student questionnaires for each cycle under the tabs for cycle one and cycle two below. In the first cycle we are asking schools to discuss the purpose of senior cycle and in cycle two we are asking schools to focus on pathways and flexibility. You may wish to collate the views of your staff and submit the document to seniorcycle@ncca.ie.

    Please note the closing dates for the submissions for cycle one is October 12th, 2018 and cycle two is January 8th, 2019.

    To aid your discussions, any material produced to support the review for the collaborating schools will be available here on the website under the 'Materials to support the review' tab below. This material includes some research reports that may help to inform discussion on the research questions.

    The overview reports for each cycle will be published online and a final overview report will be available for public consultation from March to May 2019. Further detail about this consultation process will be published as it becomes available.

     

    If you have any other queries or would like to learn more about how you can have your say, please contact us at seniorcycle@ncca.ie.

     

  • Timeline for the review
  • Materials to support the review
    • Supporting school-wide discussion

      In cycle one of the review, the focus of the questions is on the purpose of senior cycle education and futures thinking.

      The following document outlines the questions for cycle one for schools and also includes prompts and links to research reports that may prove useful in initiating discussion. The powerpoint presentation may be useful in presenting the questions to staff.

       

      • Research to support cycle one

        Research to support cycle one 

        The following research reports and articles may be useful in discussions on some of the issues raised in cycle one.

        Challenges for senior cycle 

        Much of the research carried out regarding senior cycle focuses on the challenges facing students at this level. Stress and anxiety have been highlighted as key difficulties facing students as they reach the end of second level. Some research points to the high-stakes nature of the assessment as one of the key factors influencing stress levels of students, but the same research also points to student-teacher interactions, peer relations, programme choice and subject options as key indicators of stress. 

        This study (Baird, Hofenbeck, Elwood, Caro & Ahmed, 2014) outlines the differing experiences of the Leaving Certificate for teachers and students. Whereas teachers’ experiences were bound by their subject area, students experience an extensive range of demands across their subjects. It is concluded that this tension within subjects and across subjects causes the narrowing of the curriculum and allows teaching to the test to flourish. 

        This study outlines some of the backwash effects of the CAO points on the teaching and learning at secondary level. The narrowing of the curriculum and the conflation of the experience of senior cycle with the results, and points, received in the examination has also resulted in a student cohort who are unprepared for higher education. The system is also accused of failing to foster problem solving and independent learning.

        Looking to other jurisdictions 

        Research into the provision of upper secondary education across a range of jurisdictions reveals certain similarities in terms of the aims and purposes of this stage of education. In France, through the three pathways available (general, technological and professional) upper secondary education aims to respond to students’ individual talents and so enable them to fulfil their potential. 

        In Finland, the aim of this stage of education is to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for further study and working life, but also aims to enable students to benefit from lifelong learning and take a democratic, responsible and active role as part of a local, national, European and global community.  

        Looking toward the future 

        Across a range of jurisdictions there are a number of key skills that curricula aim to embed at this stage of education. The OECD identifies three main challenges for society (economic, social and environmental). In order to address these challenges students will require a broader set of skills, attitudes and competences including: cognitive and meta-cognitive skills; social and emotional skills; practical and physical skills. 

        The World Economic Forum has examined trends in the evolution of the workforce and, given the changing nature of the workforce, has indicated that the ability to effectively retrain and upskill for a varied and changing work life will be one of the key contributors to successful employment.

    • Supporting student voices

      Student voice is central to the senior cycle review. In order to facilitate the inclusion of student voice, the following guide to the student voice process and student voice questions have been developed to support schools involved in the review.

       

    • Supporting parental voice

      As key stakeholders in the school community, parents are asked to have a role in the review of senior cycle. The following materials may assist schools and parents in getting involved in the review.

  • Consultation: Cycle 1
  • Consultation: Cycle 2

    In cycle one of the review, the questions focused on the broad purposes of this stage of education. We asked questions about the benefits and challenges of senior cycle in schools. We now want to delve into the aspects of the programmes offered in our schools that we can learn from in this review of senior cycle. We also want to look further afield, explore some other ways of structuring senior cycle.

    The following may be useful in exploring these issues:

    ERC research on Transition Year

    ESRI research on Leaving Certificate Applied

    Cycle Two Questions for Schools

    Cycle Two Questions for Parents

     School Answer Template

    Parent Answer Template