Leaving Cert system ‘does not prepare student for life beyond education’ – Harris

Pandemic provides chance to reform education, an Oireachtas committee will be told

The current Leaving Certificate system "does not prepare a student for life beyond education", Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris will tell an Oireachtas committee on Tuesday.

In an address on Leaving Certificate reform to Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Mr Harris will say the current system "does not teach students about financial literacy, digital skills, sex education, or climate skills".

“We know that some schools are passionate about education in the round, but this is not universal across our country’s schools,” he says in the address, adding that he believes it should be, as such skills “would help our students transition to the third-level system or employment”.

Covid-19 caused “huge disruption” for the education system but it also provided the chance to change and reform education, the committee will be told.


This should include considering how to move beyond a “narrow view of options post school” and beyond the “points race”, Mr Harris says in the address.

“We need a fair and consistent assessment system that can give students feedback and a clear understanding of their strengths and talents so they can make reliable choices,” he says.

Deis schools

The transition rates from Deis schools to higher education should also be increased, Mr Harris will tell the committee at Tuesday’s session.

Data shows that in 2018, the overall transition rate was 63 per cent. However, this varied from 40 per cent in Deis schools compared with 69 per cent in non-Deis schools.

Ireland’s future sustainability depended on the achievements of third-level learners and their “specialised knowledge, expertise and development” and on their “collective capacity to widen and deepen social, economic and cultural development”, the Minister says.

One of Mr Harris’s priorities going forward, he said, is to “enhance the visibility of further education and training and apprenticeships options for school leavers”.

This year, for the first time, these options would be displayed prominently on the CAO website, the committee is to be told.

Another priority is to ensure that sufficient numbers of students are equipped to work in areas of specific skill needs, such as in Stem, ICT skills and language skills.

"All of us involved in the education sector should strive to ensure that Ireland has an education system that can adapt to a rapidly changing world and supports people in developing their talents and reaching their full potential," he says.