Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (307, 361)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

307. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding geography in the junior certificate curriculum; his views on the concerns raised by the heads of departments of geography across Irish universities, organisations (details supplied) and others in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13046/19]

View answer

Martin Heydon

Question:

361. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider a review of the status of geography in the junior certificate syllabus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13622/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 307 and 361 together.

My Department has every confidence that, through the implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle the place of Geography will be retained and given a new impetus across the junior cycle curriculum. As part of the rollout of the new Framework for Junior Cycle, Geography was one of five new subject specifications that were introduced to schools in September 2018.

The new Framework for Junior Cycle gives students the opportunity to develop a wider range of knowledge and skills – to equip them for further learning, for work, for responsible and active citizenship, and for healthy living. It gives students better learning opportunities, and rewards and recognises non-academic performance and achievements, with a central focus on the student’s quality of life, wellbeing and mental health.

Prior to the introduction of the new Framework for Junior Cycle the status of Geography in junior cycle varied by school type. Geography was only a core subject in voluntary secondary schools (52% of schools).

It is important to note that currently some 92% of students across all schools choose to study Geography at Junior Cycle, although it is not compulsory in all schools. This is a clear indication that in respect of subjects like geography, schools make curricular decisions in the absence of directives and we expect this to continue.

There are no plans to make geography a mandatory subject in schools.