Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (463)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

463. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Education if an association (details supplied) was consulted before the revised guidelines for the agricultural science curriculum were published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26554/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department published guidelines on the adjusted assessment arrangements for state examinations in summer 2021. The Assessment Arrangements for Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate Examinations 2021 are available at the following link:

https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Information/Curriculum-and-Syllabus/assessment-arrangements-junior-cycle-and-leaving-certificate-examinations-2021.pdf.

As schools have significant autonomy in determining how to sequence and pace learning for students in their schools, no centrally prescribed adjustment of the curriculum and courses of study have been made for students taking the certificate examinations in 2021. Consequently, the most appropriate way to reflect and take account of the challenges for students that have occurred in 2019/20, and may occur in 2020/21, was to incorporate adjustments to the certificate examinations in 2021.

These adjustments have been arrived at through discussions between my Department, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and key stakeholders. The key stakeholders that were consulted in relation to the document included unions representing teachers, and school management bodies.

As part of The Roadmap for the Full Return to School the Department has also issued Guidance for Practical Subjects in Post-Primary Schools and Centres for Education. This document provides guidance in relation to subjects that involve using equipment in order to support the safe implementation of the practical aspects of those subjects and includes information in relation to Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science. This advice aligns with the public health advice provided by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) for the safe reopening of schools and educational facilities. This document, and further details of the response plan for the safe reopening of post primary schools, are available here:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/7acad-reopening-our-post-primary-schools/.

On 16 September, the SEC also published an information note clarifying the level of flexibility available to students in completing their coursework for Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science for the 2021 examinations. This document is available at the following link:

https://www.examinations.ie/misc-doc/EN-EX-72284060.pdf .

The SEC consulted with my Department and the NCCA on the development of this document. This information note was drawn up following consideration of the concerns of the Irish Agricultural Science Teachers Association which had been sent to the SEC, NCCA and Department. This additional flexibility for the 2021 cohort allows all candidates to meaningfully complete their examination coursework in line with the expectations of the Brief and the Guidelines in these exceptional circumstances due to Covid-19. In addition, the Professional Development Services for Teachers (PDST) Agricultural Science team has prepared additional supports for teachers in light of the exceptional challenges arising this year.