asked the Minister for Education if he is aware of the fact that under the proposed new grouping of subjects for the Leaving Certificate, there is a serious danger that a large number of students will do no further real work in English after the Intermediate Certificate; and if, in view of the concern expressed by parents and teachers, he will have the proposed grouping reviewed before any definite action is taken.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Grouping of Leaving Certificate Subjects.
The present positin is that while English is an optional subject at the Leaving Certificate Examination, success in it is in fact essential for virtually all clerical and administrative appointments made at that level. Here it is taken by practically every candidate. There is nothing in the subject grouping that will alter that position.
Has the Minister received representations from the Association of Teachers of English who have expressed concern about the proposal of regrouping on the basis that, because of the scope of the courses in English, there is a strong likelihood that English will be dropped?
I have seen the representations but I think there is a misunderstanding of the matter. First of all, the committee that proposed the structure of the new Leaving Certificate was representative of the universities, of the school associations concerned, of which Deputy Cosgrave speaks, and of my Department. The subject-grouping envisaged in the proposed new Leaving Certificate was agreed by that committee. The facts are that, while there is a certain amount of what one might call gradual streaming, we will have five groups with specialisation in three subjects in each group. It is also likely that three or four subjects will be taken outside the group, as six or seven subjects are usually taken for the Leaving Certificate. Therefore, three or four will be taken outside the specialised group and English will automatically be a subject in each of these groups. That has been the experience heretofore. Everybody does English for obvious reasons so I do not think there is any reason for apprehension. I propose to meet these people and explain further the position to them.
That may clarify the position further but, as I see it, their concern is that because of the more intensive specialisation for the future with the three related subjects, with Irish as an essential subject, the likelihood is that some less onerous subjects than English will be taken.
I agree with Deputy Cosgrave that, if there was any question of everybody not taking English, the position could become serious. But what I envisage in practice as happening is that two of the subjects outside the group will be, in effect, Irish and English, and that other subjects will be taken also. However, I shall keep an eye on the situation with a view to rectifying the position that Deputy Cosgrave speaks of should there be any danger of it arising.