The Leaving Certificate programme

The Leaving Certificate (Established) is a two-year programme that aims to provide learners with a broad, balanced education while also offering some specialisation towards a particular career option. The programme is taken in almost all schools and by an annual cohort of around 55,000 students. Students following the Leaving Certificate (Established) programme are required to study at least five subjects, one of which must be Irish. In general, students take five or more subjects (usually seven) for examination. Syllabuses are available in 31 subjects. All subjects are offered at two levels, ordinary and higher. Irish and Mathematics are available at foundation level also.
 
Leaving Certificate subjects
In all, 33 Leaving Certificate subjects are available to schools. Subjects are normally studied at either Ordinary or Higher Level, although two subjects, Irish and mathematics, can also be studied at Foundation Level. In addition to the subjects listed below, the State Examinations Commission will provide examinations in any of the recognised languages of the European Union, where the status of the applicant/candidate is seen as appropriate.
 
Irish  Physics
English Chemistry
Mathematics Biology
Applied Mathematics  Physics and Chemistry
French Agricultural Science
German Home Economics
Spanish  Business
Italian  Accounting
Russian  Economics
Japanese  Art
Arabic Music
Latin  Religious Education
Ancient Greek Construction Studies
Classical Studies  Engineering
Hebrew Studies  Design and Communication Graphics
History  Technology
Geography  Agricultural Economics
 
 
Assessment
Each subject is assessed by an external examination paper at the end of the two-year programme of study. Some subjects are also assessed by additional assessment methods including oral and aural examinations, practical examinations and assessment of practical coursework. The majority who sit for the Leaving Certificate examination are 17 or 18 years of age and have completed 5 or 6 years of post-primary education. Performance of participants in the examination can be used for purposes of selection into employment, and into further and higher education. The Leaving Certificate is well regarded nationally and internationally, in general terms. It enjoys public confidence in its standards, status and currency.
 
Review and revision
The NCCA is engaged in the review and revision of Leaving Certificate subjects, and their assessment, on an ongoing basis. Since September 2000 revised syllabuses in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Home Economics, History and Geography, and Religious Education, have been introduced, as well as a non-examination course in Religious Education. Revised syllabuses in Art, Physical Science, Economics, Architectural and Construction Technology, Art, Design and Communication Graphics, Engineering Technology, and Technology, will be introduced on a phased basis, having due regard to the implementation issues in schools. Subjects currently under review include Applied Mathematics, Agricultural Science, Latin, Ancient Greek and Classical Studies. New courses are currently being developed in Physical Education and Social, Personal and Health Education.The new and revised syllabuses introduced are characterised by
  • modernisation and increased relevance
  • an outcomes-based approach to expressing course and assessment objectives
  • increased attention to the vocational aspects of subjects – to the application of learning to real-life situations
  • greater attention to differentiation, often in the form of different learning outcomes for Ordinary and Higher levels
  • broadening of the basis for and the methods for the assessment of achievement
  • greater consideration of gender issues and of special educational needs.
In addition to updating the content and relevance of syllabuses (to the needs of students), the vocational orientation of each subject, where relevant, has also been increased. In-career development courses are provided by the Department of Education and Science for teachers of all the revised syllabuses.
In common with other programmes in the senior cycle, the Leaving Certificate (Established) is included in the major review of senior cycle that is currently taking place.
Source: NCCA website

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