Athlone Community College is one of forty one second level schools making relevant representations at National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA ) seminars which are presently ongoing in towns throughout the country.
Athlone was the location for the initial seminar, the aim of whic, is a complete review of senior cycle education in Ireland.
Explored pathways and flexibility within senior cycle education, the seminars, which take place in various locations in the next two weeks, feature in depth discussions amongst 400 stakeholders, designed to engage delegates in discussion and debate on the curriculum for this critical phase in a student’s life.
In Athlone, NCCA welcomed teachers, parents and students from collaborating schools as well as representatives from management bodies, teacher unions, subject associations, National Parents Council Post-Primary, support services, Higher Education, State Examinations Commission and the Department of Education and Skills.
Seminar participants heard from Professor Emer Smyth of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI ) who provided insights into teacher, student and parent voice on pathways, programmes, assessment and reporting emerging from the school based review. Participants then engaged in round table discussions in relation to key questions and areas of their choice and their contributions will feed into the review.
Process to date
This process began in 2016 at the NCCA Board for Senior Cycle, which is made up of representatives or educational partners and stakeholders. The Board identified priority areas to be explored during a review of the senior cycle phase of education. To underpin and inform the review, NCCA commissioned research on TY, LCVP and LCA programmes and an international scoping of provision in upper secondary education in other jurisdictions. In February of 2018, this international research was published and NCCA launched the review of senior cycle.
Schools at the hub of educational change
In May 2018, NCCA began 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 these schools.
The first cycle focused on the purpose of senior cycle education and thinking about the future, with the second cycle exploring pathways andfFlexibilities in senior cycle education. Each cycle begins as a school based discussion, where the emphasis is on teacher, parent and student voice. Each cycle then widens out to conclude with a national seminar discussion involving representatives from the collaborating schools and education partners.
An update bulletin is then distributed to all post-primary schools and a range of stakeholders. The bulletin for Cycle 1 is now available, while an update bulletin from Cycle 2 will be available at the end of March.
What’s happening next
Following this series of national seminars, a report on the review of senior cycle education will be published. Senior cycle review will then be opened to full public consultation from March to June 2019, with many ways of getting involved and contributing to the conversation.