The Religious Education curriculum designed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) is an optional examinable subject at Junior and Leaving Certificate.
The Department does not require schools to include the NCCA-developed Religious Education syllabuses at Junior or Senior Cycle as mandatory subjects on their curriculum. Accordingly schools have discretion to determine if they provide the subject at all or if it is to be mandatory or optional in any particular class group or year.
Circular 0062/2018 issued in October 2018 to clarify that withdrawal with an offer of an alternative subject does not arise in relation to the NCCA Religious syllabus as the that syllabus cannot be delivered by schools containing any element of religious instruction, formation, indoctrination or worship of any individual religion.
Circular 0062/2018 does not in any way change or alter the right of any parent under the Education Act or the Constitution not to attend instruction in any subject that is contrary to the conscience of the parent. Under section 30 of the 1998 Education Act, a school is not required to provide an alternative subject. Section 30 applies to any subject where a parent may have a conscientious objection.