- About ASTI
- Pay and Conditions
- ASTI Membership
- Operation of Schools
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.
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.
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.
Ms. Brigid McManus, Chairperson
Mr. Declan Kelleher, Deputy Chairperson, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation
Mr. Michael Redmond, Deputy Chairperson, Joint Managerial Body
Mr. Clive Byrne, Ministerial Nominee
Deirbhile Nic Craith, Uasal, Irish National Teachers' Organisation
Dr. Marie Griffin, Irish Vocational Education Association
Dr. Nóirín Hayes, Nominee of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
Ms. Christina Henehan, Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland
Mr. Philip Irwin, Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland
Ms. Bernie Judge, Teachers’ Union of Ireland
Dr. Daire Keogh, Irish Federation of University Teachers
Ms. Marie-Thérèse Kilmartin, Joint Managerial Body
Ms. Mary Lillis, National Parents Council Primary
Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha, Uasal, Department of Education and Skills
Dr. Rose Malone, Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Ms. Hilary Mc Bain, Church of Ireland Board of Education
Ms. Patricia McCrossan, National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education
Dr. Kara McGann, Irish Business and Employers Confederation
Mr. Jim Moore, National Parents Council Post-Primary
Mr. Michael O'Brien, Teachers’ Union of Ireland
Seán Ó Coinn, Uasal, Foras na Gaeilge
Mr. Bryan O'Reilly, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation
Sr. Betty O’Riordan, Catholic Primary Schools Managers’ Association
Bríd Uí Riordán, Uasal, State Examinations Commission
Ms. Eileen Salmon, Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools
In addition to the Council of the NCCA, the work of the Council is conducted through Course Committees and Boards of Studies. The Committees focus on the review of syllabus, assessment and examinations for Junior and Senior Cycle subjects, while the Boards of Studies of Studies focus on similar work for cognate groups of subjects at Senior Cycle. The NCCA website – www.ncca.ie – provides detailed information on the work of the Council.
Each Syllabus Committee is composed of the representatives of the education partners:
The first meeting of the Committee elects a Chairperson who serves to ensure that meetings are conducted in an efficient and transparent manner. Each Committee 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 Committee, including minutes of meetings. Typically, Education Officers are teachers who are seconded to work with the Council, following a public job advertisement. In addition to committees for syllabus review, there are other committees for review of generic curriculum areas such as Junior and Senior Cycle, guidance and counselling, etc. The composition of the latter committees is broadly based on the representative model above.
ASTI members on committees are reimbursed for their travel and subsistence expenses directly by the NCCA.
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 course committees are serving teachers.
Because committees 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 on committees. This is best done by discussing the issues with Committee members, in particular the teacher representatives, and presenting proposals which are acceptable to teachers in the classroom.
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:
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.
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.
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)
All queries and correspondence should be directed to Ms Eileen O’Rourke, at 01 – 6040170, asti.library(at)asti.ie