Ukrainian available as Leaving Cert subject from next academic year

Norma Foley announces move with 5,200 Ukrainian children now in Irish secondary schools

Norma Foley, the Minister for Education, paid tribute to community schools for welcoming Ukrainians. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Leaving Certificate students will be able to study Ukrainian from the start of the next academic year, Minister for Education Norma Foley has announced.

Students entering fifth year in September 2023 will be able to choose the subject, which will be made available as a non-curricular subject aimed primarily at native speakers. The first exams in Ukrainian will be sat by students in 2025.

The introduction of the new subject comes after the arrival of thousands of Ukrainians to the State in the wake of the war’s outbreak in February 2022. To date, 15,000 children are recorded to have moved, with 5,200 of those in secondary school. Some 100 Ukrainian post-primary teachers have also been admitted to the Teaching Council register in the last year.

Speaking before the Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS) on Friday, the Minister said: “As a nation, Ireland has stood firmly with the people of Ukraine. It is right that we would do so. It is clear to me that you share this commitment. I see this every time I visit your schools and see how much has been done to welcome Ukrainian pupils to your classrooms and to your communities.


“For these students, many of whom have had to leave behind parents, grandparents, siblings and other loved ones, school provides an important sense of normality. It is a place where they can escape other concerns, focus on their own learning and make friends.

“I wish to sincerely acknowledge and salute the sterling work of ACCS and schools across the country. Thank you for all you have done and all you are doing to provide a place of refuge, security and learning for our Ukrainian students.”

CSO says number of Ukrainian refugees in Ireland nearing 75,000Opens in new window ]

As a non-curricular language, there is no oral examination and the exam will be sat at higher level only, offering an option primarily for native speakers.

For the 2023 Leaving Certificate examinations, the list of available non-curricular languages includes Romanian, Modern Greek, Finnish, Dutch, Croatian and Maltese.

According to the State Exams Commission website, it is commission policy to accede to requests to provide examinations for native speakers in their mother tongue in the case of the national languages of EU countries. Ukraine is not a member of the EU but launched an application shortly after Russia began its invasion of the country.

Non-EU languages such as Mandarin Chinese are also available.

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns is an Irish Times journalist