Curriculum and Assessment

Senior Cycle Curriculum Redevelopment

On September 20th, Minister Norma Foley announced an accelerated process of redevelopment of the senior cycle curriculum as follows:

Tranche 1 subjects

From September 2025, 9 new and redeveloped subjects will commence in schools for Fifth Year students. They are:

  • Arabic
  • Classical Languages/Greek and Latin
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Business
  • Drama, Film and Theatre Studies
  • Climate Action and Sustainable Development

NCCA Subject Development Groups have finalised or are in the process of finalising draft specifications for these subjects which will be submitted to public consultation. ASTI Latest News will alert its members of such consultations and related news. 

Tranche 2 subjects

From September 2026, 7 redeveloped subjects will commence in schools for Fifth Year Students. They are:

  • Accounting
  • Construction Studies
  • Engineering
  • English
  • Geography
  • Physical Education
  • LCVP Link Modules

NCCA Subject Development Groups are currently being established to develop background papers for public consultation. ASTI Latest News will alert its members of such consultations and related news.

Revised Assessment Arrangements for Tranche 1 and Tranche 2 subjects 

In her statement on 20th September, Minister Norma Foley underlined the need to further explore the opportunities afforded by generative AI developments in an educational context, as well as the challenges they might present. The Minister has tasked the SEC to commission further research would be commissioned on the potential role and impact of generative artificial intelligence in teacher-based assessment in particular.

While this work is ongoing, revised specifications will contain additional and practical components that will be externally assessed by the SEC.

Other developments in Senior Cycle curriculum since March 2022

A revised SPHE programme for senior cycle was submitted for public consultation. Click here for ASTI submission.

The public consultation on a revised Transition Year Programme Statement closed in October. It is intended that the revised Programme Statement will be introduced in 2024.  Click here for ASTI submission.

Click here for ASTI campaign page on Senior Cycle Re-development. 


Assessment in State certificate examinations

ASTI policy on assessment in the State certificate examinations was first formulated in 1988. Convention motion 156 stated that:

“The ASTI rejects any extension of the use of school-based assessment for certification purposes in the national examination system.”

The ASTI policy on assessment is based on the principle that assessment in the State certificate examinations should be valid, objective and equitable. There should be a variety of techniques of assessment to evaluate the student’s level of skills and test the student’s knowledge in each subject

The ASTI supports the use of orals, aurals and assessment of practical and project work in the State certificate examinations provided that these techniques involve external setting of questions, external administration, and external marking.
The ASTI insists on these conditions for the following reasons:

  1. The setting, administration and marking of the examinations must be perceived by pupils, parents, employers, training agencies and third level colleges to be totally objective and impartial.
  2. It is the view of the ASTI that the use of school-based assessment by the pupil’s own teacher for certification purposes has negative consequences for teaching time, the role of the teacher and the pupil-teacher-parent relationship.
  3. The introduction of school-based assessment by the pupil’s own teacher for certification purposes would undermine the perception of the teacher by the pupil as an advocate rather than as a judge in terms of nationally certified examinations.
  4. External assessment for certification in Ireland has proved its worth in an educational system characterised by excellent standards and sound educational and human values. The superimposing of school-based assessment by the pupils’ own teacher for certification into Irish educational culture and tradition, just because it is practiced in other countries, is an unsound argument.

ASTI Policy on Classroom-Based Assessments in the Framework for Junior Cycle

Convention 2016 passed the following motion:

Motion 67 – That ASTI members refuse to assess their own students for school certification (the JC profile of achievement).

This is now policy and is currently being implemented under the directive.

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Certificate Examinations

The State Examinations Commission is non-departmental public body under the aegis of the Department of Education. The SEC website contains detailed information on all aspects of the State examinations including:

• Statements of Results

• Examination Papers/Marking Schemes

• Chief Examiners' Reports

• Online External Candidate Application Service 

In addition, the SEC website provides comprehensive information for the public on such issues as Reasonable Accommodations for Special Needs Students, Examination Fees, results dates, etc.

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Digital Strategy for Schools

The Department of Education and Skills commenced a digital strategy for schools in 2015 -“Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020: Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Assessment” 

Arising from this strategy, the following strands are now operational in schools: 

In addition, the Department has published a Digital Strategy Action Plan which sets out 55 actions to be achieved up to 2026.

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STEM Education

The Department of Education and Skills policy on STEM Education was published in 2016.

Following this, an implementation plan and policy statement were published.

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Guidelines for ASTI Members Serving on NCCA Structures

1. What is the NCCA?

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) is a statutory body of the Department of Education. It 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 twenty-five members of the Council are appointed by the Minister for a three-year term. The NCCA is representative of the partners in education and other bodies, including the Department of Education, State Examinations Commission, the education unions - ASTI, INTO, TUI and IFUT, school managerial bodies, parent organizations, the social partners – ICTU and IBEC. The Council also includes one nominee each of the Minister for Education and Skills and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

3. Who is on the NCCA Council?

NCCA Council 2022-2026.

4. What are the Structures of the NCCA?

The work of the Council is conducted through Subject/Programme Development Groups and Boards of Studies. The Development Groups focus on the development of subject specifications and assessment guidelines. The Boards of Studies focus on broader curriculum issues at Junior and Senior Cycle while also have oversight over the draft specifications and assessment guidelines prepared by the Development Groups. The representative structure of the NCCA Council is broadly replicated on the Boards of Studies and Subject Development Groups.

5. What practical resources does the NCCA provide?

Because the NCCA is the statutory body for the development of curriculum content and assessment guidelines, it has a dedicated website providing detailed information on curriculum and assessment for each subject and programme at second-level. The information is presented across three strands – subject specification, assessment guidelines, examples of students’ work. See

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Education for Sustainable Development

‘Education for Sustainability’ - The National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development in Ireland, 2014-2020 provides a framework to support the contribution of the education system towards a more sustainable future at a number of levels: individual, community, local, national and international.

The National Strategy aims to ensure that education contributes to sustainable development by equipping learners at all levels with the relevant knowledge (the ‘what’), the key dispositions and skills (the ‘how’), the values (the ‘why’) that will motivate and empower them throughout their lives to become informed active citizens who take action for a more sustainable future.

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