Policy Forum for Ireland

The Future of Senior Cycle Curriculum and Assessment in Ireland - lessons from Junior cycle reform, developing the curriculum and the next steps for assessment and qualification

Morning, Thursday, 30th April 2020

Central Dublin


This seminar will be an opportunity to assess the conclusions of the Senior Cycle Review by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

It follows the publication of interim findings, and comes with the The Collaborative Review of Senior Cycle Education: report for consultation due to be published shortly before the seminar.

Delegates will discuss what has been learnt from the Review as a whole and the steps that should be next taken as the curriculum is shaped.

Attendees will also consider the possible lessons that might be learnt from the delivery of Junior Cycle curriculum reform so far.

It comes with calls for a review of the reforms made as a part of the Junior Cycle framework before the development and progression of Senior Cycle reforms.

Sessions will look at the buy-in for the ongoing reforms from key stakeholders - such as teachers in the area of assessment - as well as the concerns from some surrounding the level of knowledge students are obtaining from the new curricula at Junior Cycle, and the potential effect on ensuring a smooth progression to secondary level.

Overall, the agenda focuses on the development of curricula in the Senior Cycle.

We expect discussion on how to ensure that the new curriculum is:

  • sufficiently flexible to allow students to learn at their own pace;
  • includes increased focus on student wellbeing; and
  • potentially includes current elements of the transition year, such as work experience and life skills.

Delegates will also discuss how the new curriculum can provide effective pathways for transition to non-academic routes such as apprenticeships, training, and employment amidst concerns that the current curriculum does not offer suitable options.

There will be a further focus on whether the new curriculum meets the skills needs of universities and employers, amidst calls from some employers for a greater focus on STEM.

Delegates will also discuss assessment reforms, their implementation, and how they can ensure fair, practical, and reliable assessment for the stakeholders involved.

It comes with calls in the NCCA’s interim review for the introduction of continuous assessment to relieve pressure on students whilst continuing to be externally examined - avoiding teachers having to mark the work of their own pupils.

It also follows concerns from some that the current leaving certificate examination can have a negative effect on students’ mental health and encourages rote learning.   

Keynote Speaker

Barry Slattery

Deputy Chief Executive Officer, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment


Claire McGee

Head, Education and Innovation Policy, Ibec

John MacGabhann

General Secretary, Teachers’ Union of Ireland

Aodhagan O'Suilleabhain

Chairperson, Irish Science Teachers’ Association

Professor Philip Nolan

President, Maynooth University

Carol Guildea

Guidance Programme Coordinator, Post Primary, National Centre for Guidance in Education

Noel Keenan

Director, National Parents Council Post Primary