Guidelines for ASTI Members Serving on NCCA Structures

1.  What is the NCCA?

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) was established under the Education Act, 1989.  Under Section 41 of the Act, the object of the Council shall be to advise the Minister on matters relating to:

(a) the curriculum for early childhood, primary and post-primary schools

(b) the assessment procedures employed in schools and examinations on subjects which are part of the curriculum.

2. Who does the NCCA represent? 

The NCCA is representative of the partners in education and other bodies, including the Department of Education and Science, State Examinations Commission, ASTI, INTO and TUI, school managerial bodies, parent organizations, subject associations and higher education interests. Because the Council is representative of the partners, its work is conducted in structures based on consultation, consensus and collective responsibility. The Council of the NCCA meets on average eight times per annum.  In the interim, the work of the NCCA is conducted by executive staff. The NCCA is funded by the Department of Education and Science. 

3.   Who is on the NCCA Council?

The role of the Council of the NCCA is to approve of all syllabuses, curriculum documents and teacher guidelines; to approve of policy directions and strategies; and to be responsible for the overall governance of the NCCA.

Chairperson  - Brigid McManus

Nominee of the Minister for Education and Skills  - Clive Byrne

Nominee of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs - Avril McMonagle

JMB – Vice Chairperson - Michael Redmond

JMB – Ordinary member - Marie Therese Kilmartin

INTO – Vice Chairperson - Declan Kelleher

INTO – Ordinary member - Deirbhile NicCraith

INTO – Ordinary member - Emma Dineen

ETBI - David Leahy

CPSMA - Maria Spring

NABMSE - John Gearty

Church of Ireland - Rosemary Eager

IFUT - Michael Delargey

IBEC - Kevin Marshall

ICTU - Rose Malone

ACCS - Áine O Sullivan

NPC – primary - Áine Lynch

NPC – post-primary - Don Myers

Foras na Gaeilge - Pádraig Ó Duibhir

SEC - Bríd Uí Riordan

DES - Padraig MacFhlannchadha

ASTI - Philip Irwin

ASTI - Máire G. Ní Chiarba

TUI  - David Duffy

TUI - Joanne Irwin

4.  What are the Structures of the NCCA?

In addition to the Council of the NCCA, the work of the Council is conducted through Subject Development Groups and Boards of Studies.  The Development Groups focus on the review of syllabus, assessment and examinations for Junior and Senior Cycle subjects and programmes, while the Boards of Studies of Studies focus on broader policy issues at Junior and Senior Cycle.  The NCCA website – www.ncca.ie – provides detailed information on the work and governance of the Council.

5.   How do Subject Development Groups work?

Each Group is composed of the representatives of the education partners:

  • 2 ASTI representatives Click here for list of ASTI Representives
  • 2 TUI representatives
  • 1 Subject Association representative
  • 3 Management Bodies representatives – JMB, ACCS, IVEA
  • 1 Third Level representative
  • 1 Department Inspectorate representative 
  • 1 State Examinations’ Commission representative

The first meeting of the Group elects a Chairperson who serves to ensure that meetings are conducted in an efficient and transparent manner.  Each Group is served by an Education Officer who is an employee of the Council and whose role is to prepare materials for the work of the Group, including minutes of meetings.  Typically, Education Officers are teachers who are seconded to work with the Council, following a public job advertisement. 

6.  How do ASTI Representatives best serve on Subject Development Groups?

The classroom teacher is the subject expert.   In addition, they have extensive knowledge of the realities of classroom and school life.  Their expertise is paramount in the process of curriculum change.  For this reason, the teacher unions each have two representatives on the course committees. In addition, the subject associations are also represented by serving teachers and in many instances, so too are the school management bodies – the JMB, ACCS and the IVEA.  In practice, therefore, the majority of members of Subject Development Groups are serving teachers.  

Because Subject Development Groups work on the basis of consensus, securing support for the viewpoint of the serving teacher is the most effective way for the ASTI representatives to work these Groups.  This is best done by discussing the issues with Group members, in particular the teacher representatives, and presenting proposals which are acceptable to teachers in the classroom.

7.   How does the ASTI Representative provide feedback to Head Office?

The Education Committee of the ASTI spends much of its time reviewing the work of the NCCA, based on the reports and documentation provided by the NCCA representatives.  The process of feedback is as follows:

  • Submission of report to Education Committee after each meeting, including list of those present, items on the agenda and a summary of the main decisions or discussions thereon. 
  • Submission of a report to the Annual Convention Handbook each January.
  • Contacting Assistant General Secretary/Education & Research to apprise Head Office of major issues or problems arising at Committee level.

8. What are the other duties of ASTI representatives on the NCCA?

Because they are the subject experts, the ASTI representatives are required to prepare reports on the Certificate examinations for submission to the State Examinations Commissions.  These reports are highly important as they provide direct expert views on the content of the papers and on problems, if any, encountered by students with the paper including layout, lack of congruence with syllabus, etc.  In addition to this duty, ASTI Representatives are also expected to be available to provide a response to the media analysis of the certificate examinations.  A “Media Guide” is issued each year to ASTI representatives in advance of the examinations.

9.   ASTI Seminar for NCCA Representatives 

The ASTI hosts a seminar each September for all of its representatives on the Council. This Seminar provides an invaluable opportunity for ASTI representatives to discuss important issues such as assessment and curriculum policy.  All ASTI Representatives on the NCCA are expected to attend this Seminar.

10.  ASTI Policy on Assessment

The ASTI policy on assessment has been ratified by annual Conventions and all ASTI members who serve on the NCCA’s structures are required to uphold this policy which is summarised as follows:

“The ASTI supports the use of wide range of assessment techniques in the State certificate examinations such as oral and aural examinations, the examination of project work and the examination of practical work provided that they involve the external setting of questions, conduct and marking. The ASTI insists on these conditions because the setting, conduct and marking of the examinations must be perceived by students, parents, employers and the wider community to be totally objective and impartial.”  (ASTI 1999 convention policy on Junior Certificate examination)  

11.   Who do I contact in ASTI Head Office?

All queries and correspondence should be directed to Ms Eileen O’Rourke, at 01 – 6040170, eileen(at)asti.ie