We need clarity on Leaving Cert reform

Sir, – Thanks to Breda O'Brien for highlighting the issue of Leaving Certificate reform ( "Let your politicians know that education matters", Opinion & Analysis, January 18th).

I agree with her statement that while reform of the Leaving Cert is overdue, the only thing worse than delayed reform is the wrong kind of reform.

She makes the point that teachers have been very unhappy with the new Junior Cert syllabus and they feel as if they and their students are “floundering around in a fog”.

In a recent survey answered by 762 science teachers, more than 85 per cent of them expressed concern about this approach and stated that the same approach should not be taken to the reform of the Leaving Cert.


As Breda O’Brien pointed out, the current approach to revising the Leaving Certificate has been compared to an Ikea flatpack but with no accompanying instructions.

Six years ago I warned against a vague and undocumented Leaving Cert syllabus, pointing out that no other country in the world has used this approach for a high-stakes externally assessed examination. I support the teachers in their request that the full range of syllabus documentation (including depth of treatment, teachers’ notes, examination specification, etc) should be officially published at the same time as the syllabus (or so-called specification) itself, under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills. This elaborated documentation should be available to students, teachers, third level institutions, school management and the general public well before the new or revised syllabi are due to be implemented. – Yours, etc,


Emeritus Professor

of Education,

University College Cork.