Sir, – The Minister for Education’s policy to examine written paper one in English and Irish in the Leaving Certificate at the end of fifth year instead of sixth year is simply daft. Prof Desmond Swan (Letters, February 1st) and Breda O’Brien provide very good reasons why (“Foley’s Leaving Cert reform is untenable”, Opinion & Analysis, January 28th). In addition, teacher unions the ASTI and the TUI, along with the subject associations for Irish and English – An Gréasán and the Irish National Organisation for Teachers of English – are implacably opposed to the plan, which they believe is flawed, educationally unsound and will increase stress among students.
While the former chief inspector at the Department of Education, Harold Hislop, said the move could be an “early win”, the State Examinations Commission expressed grave concerns in 2021 about changing the timing of paper one in English and Irish, noting that any change in the timing of these examinations beyond a few weeks would require a review of the syllabus. It also pointed out that holding paper one any earlier would significantly disadvantage boys, given their relative level of maturity.
Opposition to the nonsensical policy will only grow. It is time for the Minister to let this one go, go back to the drawing board and listen to the experts. With the right team, she may still score a late goal if she is prepared to sacrifice her “early win”. – Yours, etc,