Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.21 1 Oct 2019


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The Education Minister Joe McHugh says history is to be made a 'special status' subject for the junior cycle in schools.

He said he made the decision "after careful consideration and listening to many opinions".

His decision effectively means students will now be obliged to study history.

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The only mandatory subjects at the moment are Irish, English and Maths.

However this recommendation is going against the advice of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), which recommended that it should be an optional subject.

History Image via @McHughJoeTD on Twitter

On this, Minister McHugh said: "I am hugely grateful to the NCCA for the work they've done and their review.

"But I do not believe optional history is right for our schools and the times we live in."

"My view is that our education system is responsive and progressive enough to allow for the junior cycle framework to be structured in such a way for history to have a special core status.

"I am seeking the support of the NCCA to examine how best that can be achieved and their expertise to design a special core status for history within the new junior cycle to meet the request."

A new specification for the subject was introduced to schools in September 2018, as part of the roll-out of the junior cycle framework.

Before this, history was a mandatory subject in approximately half of secondary schools - although around nine out of 10 students took the history Junior Certificate exam.

Minister McHugh added: "The optional nature of history in the junior cycle framework was due to be reviewed two years from now but I am not prepared to risk a fall in the number of students studying history in that time.

"The junior cycle framework focuses on core learning as opposed to core subjects. It is my view, after long consideration, that history is central to that."

The review was ordered after criticism that history was removed as a core subject under the new junior cycle framework.

Secondary school teachers' union the ASTI had said it was disappointed at the recommendation by the NCCA.

ASTI President Deirdre Mac Donald argued at the time: "The calls for history to be a core subject at junior cycle have attracted considerable support from reputable academic figures and the public at large. The ASTI lends its voice in full support.

"In particular, the ASTI shares and supports the 'deep and profound concern' expressed by President of Ireland Michael D Higgins that history will no longer be a core subject."

The minister wants change in place by next September.


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History Joe Mchugh Mandatory Subjects NCCA National Council For Curriculum And Assessment Special Status

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