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Major changes ahead for Leaving Cert students

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By Michelle Crean 

Major changes to the Leaving Cert have been announced today (Tuesday) which will include spreading exams over a two year period. 

Secondary school students who will be heading into Senior Cycle in September 2023 will now sit English and Irish Paper One at the end of Fifth Year in a move which is set to reduce final year stress. Two new subjects will also be available for students from September 2024; Drama, Film and Theatre Studies, and Climate Action and Sustainable Development.

Announced today by Education Minister Norma Foley, she said that new approach will enable students to follow a broad curriculum, develop their interests and skills and participate in a final assessment process consistent with international best practice, which will support them in their next phase of life whether that’s third level, further education and training, apprenticeships or the world of work.

While she said that the "current system has many strengths" it "can be improved". 

"Today I am setting out a new plan for Senior Cycle education in Ireland,” Minister Foley said.

"This is an ambitious programme of reform. It will enrich students’ educational experience by increasing their choices to match their interests and enhancing teaching and learning. It will reduce the pressure on students that comes from final assessments based primarily on examinations. We will move to a model that uses other forms of assessment, over a less concentrated time period, in line with international best practice." 

Key changes to Senior Cycle

* Managing the assessment burden
* New and revised subjects will be developed
* From September 2023, students will take Leaving Certificate Irish and English Paper One at the end of Fifth Year
* The marks for Paper One will be 'banked' and added to the marks awarded for Paper Two which students will take in June of Sixth Year
* The experience of running Orals and Practical Music Examinations at Easter in the last two years is being reviewed. It is hoped to run the examinations in this way in future
 

New subjects and new ways of assessing students

New subjects will be developed and new subject curricula, which outline what material is taught and assessed in a subject, will be devised. The process of doing this will involve teachers, students and school communities as well as other education experts. The NCCA will publish a curriculum review by September 2023. This will set out a plan for new and revised subject curricula to be delivered in annual blocks.

Three Senior Cycle science subject curricula; Biology, Chemistry and Physics as well as Business will be ready for introduction to the network schools and revised specifications in Latin, Ancient Greek and Arabic will be introduced for all schools in September 2024.

A Senior Cycle Reform Programme Delivery Board will be established to oversee and drive the changes.

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Killarney hotels are still open for business

By Sean Moriarty Only a few of the town’s 37 hotels are homing displaced people – according to Bernadette Randles, chair of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotel Federation. […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Only a few of the town’s 37 hotels are homing displaced people – according to Bernadette Randles, chair of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotel Federation.

This week she said that there’s still accommodation to be found in Killarney for visitors.

She was speaking in relation to the current accommodation situation facing International Protection Applicants and Ukrainian war refugees.

She explained that there is a perception that Killarney has taken in too many refugees and that it is putting the tourism industry at risk as people are starting to think that the town is at full capacity.

“If you can’t get a room in Killarney there is something wrong,” she said. “Maybe with the exception of New Year’s Eve.”

She added that hotels that are providing emergency accommodation are helping off-season unemployment.

Many hotels remain in survival mode after two years of pandemic turmoil and the additional off season business is important, she explained.

“Many could be closed at this time of the year, others would not be operating at full capacity,” she added.

However, she warned the Government needs to put a plan in place before the tourism season starts next year. Some hotels offering emergency accommodation either have a three or six month contract.

“I can see there will be tears next April – the Government must have a long-term plan,” she said.

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Homing refugees worth almost €14m

By Sean Moriarty Hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation suppliers in the Killarney area have secured contracts in excess of €13 million to accommodate Ukraine war refugees. The Department of Children, […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation suppliers in the Killarney area have secured contracts in excess of €13 million to accommodate Ukraine war refugees.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth released figures to the Killarney Advertiser.

Documents show that contracts totalling €13,852,255.00 are being shared between 13 premises in the Killarney urban area.

However, the department warned these figures are “indicative” only and the full value of the contracts depends on “occupancy and actual usage”.

The Eviston Hotel has secured a contract worth €5,727,590.00, the Innisfallen Hotel in Fossa for €2,404,620.00 and The Hotel Killarney signed a deal worth €1,701,000.00. These are the three biggest contracts published in the documentation.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, and Department officials say more contracts could come on stream. Figures seen by the Killarney Advertiser only cover contracted premises up to the end of September this year and updated figures are only released every three months.

“We are in contract with far more, but the formal exchange of contracts can take place sometime after the service commences,” a department spokesperson told the Killarney Advertiser.

“The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is obliged to publish a list of contracts formally signed off each quarter that have been awarded under a special EU Derogation that permits the Department to enter into contracts in the context of the Ukraine accommodation crisis without going to formal tender.

“The values of the contracts shown are estimates; the actual value materialises upon occupancy and actual usage. Standard contracts have no-fault break clauses available to both parties so again, the figures are indicative rather than actual.”

These figures only cover Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war and do not include International Protection Applicants.

The Department refused to release International Protection Applicant figures to the Killarney Advertiser.

“The International Protection Applicant accommodation contract information is commercially sensitive information and is not available,” added the Department spokesperson.

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