Setting the Curriculum
The Department following consultation with school patrons, the National Association of Parents recognised school management organisations, trade unions and staff associations representing teachers may prescribe the curriculum for recognised schools including
- subjects to be offered
- syllabus for each subject
- amount of instruction time to be allotted to each subject
- guidance and counselling provision
The Department may have regard to the characteristic spirit of the school in exercising its functions. It must not require a student to attend instruction on a subject which is contrary to the conscience of the parent or the student if over 18 years.
The Minister may consult with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in relation to the curriculum. The Minister may establish bodies of persons to conduct research advise and curricular matters.
The Department must take steps to promote teaching through Irish. In particular, it must
- establish bodies to plan and coordinate textbooks and learning aids in Irish
- advise on policies relating to the provision or promotion of education through the medium of Irish generally and in Gaeltacht areas
- provide support systems through the medium of Irish
A body may be established dealing with education to Irish. It must advise the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment on matters relating to
- the teaching of Irish
- provision of education through Irish including matters relating to the curriculum
- educational needs of persons living in Gaeltacht areas
The Minister after consultation with certain parties may establish an educational disadvantage committee to advise on policies and strategies to identify and correct educational disadvantage. Up to half of the membership shall be appointed from voluntary and other bodies who are relevant to the work of the committee.
The committee must prepare and submit a statement containing proposed policies and strategies for the identification and correction of educational disadvantage and areas of activity to which the committee accords priority. In preparing the statement, the committee shall regard to resources including financial resources, the public interest in ensuring that the resources are available and applied in an effective and efficient manner.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is an independent body which undertakes functions in relation to curriculum for primary and post-primary schools. It provides for assessment procedures for subjects.
Members are appointed by the Minister in accordance with regulations.The membership of the council is determined by the Minister following consultation with patrons, the National Association of Parents, recognised school management bodies, recognised trade unions and staff associations and other persons as appropriate.
In determining the membership of the Council, the Minister must ensure in so far as practicable that is representative of bodies and persons involved in education and early childhood, primary and post-primary levels including staff associations and national associations of parents. It must include
- persons who have skills in business and industry that are relevant to the council
- persons who have a special interest in the education of school students with a disability or special educational needs
- representatives of Irish language organisations as are appropriate.
Role of NCCA
The Council advises the Minister’s relating to
- the curriculum for early childhood education, primary and post-primary education
- the assessment procedures in schools examinations on subjects which are part of the curriculum
- It is the function of the Council
- to review the curriculum and syllabuses
- to advise the Department on methods of assessment and their effectiveness
- to advise on strategies for a successful transition from primary to post-primary school level
- to advise the Minister on standards of knowledge and skills which students of various age levels should attain
- he mechanisms for assessing achievement of standards having regard to national and international standards and good practice
- review in-service training needs of teachers including needs related to new curricula subjects and syllabuses
- advise on the requirements regarding curriculum and syllabuses for students with disabilities or special education needs
- advise strategies which have their objective the enhancement and effectiveness of teaching and use of Irish language
- promote research and development in education
The Minister may designate persons and organisations with a special interest in the functions of the Council. The Council must consult with designated bodies when requested to do so by the Minister.
Designated bodies may make representations to the Council on relevant matters. The council must give designated members a copy of each publication by it.
The Council consists has a full-time chief executive who shall carry on manage and controlled the administration of the council and its staff. The council must report annually.
Conduct of Exams
The Intermediate Examinations Act 1878 governs the conduct of the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert. The exams are under the control of the State Examination Commission and Department of Education.The State Examinations Commission -is responsible for the development, assessment and accreditation of second level examinations.
Part VIII of the Education Act 1998 provides for examinations. They are set out in the schedule to the Act. Schedule 2. The Minister may make regulations as are necessary for the conduct of examinations.
The Minister may make regulations for the effective conduct of examinations. This may relate to matters including
- preparation of the paper and materials
- procedures on examinations conduct and supervision
- issue of results
- charging of fees
- terms of appeal
- penalties for breach of regulation
- designation of places
A person who
- knowingly and without lawful authority publishes or has in his possession without lawful authority an examination paper prior to the examination concerned,
- carries out any duties related to the preparation of exam papers knowingly and without lawful authority provides a candidate or other person with information relating to the material with the intention of providing an advantage
- knowingly or willingly credits a candidate with higher marks than those which he is entitled to with the intention of conferring an advantage
- knowingly or maliciously credits a candidate lower marks than those to which is entitled to
- impersonates a candidate
- knowingly allows a person to personate a candidate
- knowingly or maliciously destroys or damages any material relating to an examination
- knowingly or maliciously y obstructs any candidate, or a person engaged in examination or interferes with its conduct
- knowingly and without lawful authority alters and certificate or record containing results
- knowingly issues make use of any certificate or document which purports to be issued by an examination authority containing results which he knows to be false
is guilty of an offence.
It is an offence to aid abet, counsel any person to commit ant such offence. A person who is guilty of an offence may be subject to a penalty of up to €1,830 or imprisonment up to six months on summary conviction or both or on conviction on indictment a fine up to €6,350 imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.
Limiting Access to Certain Information
The Freedom of Information Act have provision for refusal of access to information insofar as it relates to any records that would enable the compilation of information (that is not otherwise available to the general public) concerning the comparative performance of schools in respect of the academic achievement of students enrolled therein, including, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing—
- the overall results in any year of students in a particular school in an examination or assessment or
- the comparative overall results in any year of students in different schools in an examination or assessment;
The matter was considered by the Supreme Court in relation to an application by the Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act. The Information Commissioner allowed redacted access. The High Court upheld the Information Commissioner’s decision that redacted versions of the reports be made available.
The 2007 Act provides that the State Examination Commission may regulate access to information, which would facilitate the compilation of school league tables grounded on academic performance.
The Minister may refuse access to information that would enable the compilation of information in relation to the comparative performance of schools in respect of academic achievement including
- Overall results in a year of students in the school
- composite overall results.
He may refuse access to information related to the identity of examiners.
The revised curriculum for primary schools provides that it is the responsibility of the school to provide religious education that is consistent with its ethos and, at the same time to be flexible in making alternative organisational arrangements for those who do not wish to avail of a particular religious education it offers. It is equally important that the beliefs and sensibilities of every child are respected.
The Education Act provides that a student shall not be required to attend instruction which is contrary to the conscience of the parent or in the case of a student over 18, the student. In broad terms, schools are left to make their own arrangements regarding religious instruction and worship and matters relating to the school’s ethos or characteristic spirit.
The characteristics spirit need not be religious in nature. In practice, the majority of schools are managed under a religious denomination, which will reflect its ethos.
Provided that the prescribed curriculum is taught in school, the school management retains the discretion as to teaching of other subjects, including religious subjects affecting the ethos of the school.
Under the 1999 curriculum, the school is responsible for providing religious education consistent with its ethos. The content, syllabus and supervision of examinations are matters for the denominational school authority.
Religious education in a broader sense is under the control and supervision of the State, and maybe the subject of a state exam. This is distinguished from religious instruction which pertains to a particular religion