NCBI welcomes proposals to reform Leaving Certificate

A young boy in a wheelchair using assistive technology and reading large print on a desktop computer

Wednesday 30th March 2022, NCBI has welcomed the announcements made by Minister for Education, Norma Foley in relation to reform of the Leaving Certificate. However, it cautions that all changes made must be done through an accessibility lens.

The long-awaited reforms aim to reduce the pressure felt by students when preparing for the Leaving Certificate by introducing teacher-based assessments and reducing the reliance on the final exam element.

June Tinsley, NCBI Head of Advocacy and Communications said “These reforms must enable students who are blind or vision impaired to thrive by ensuring subject choices, teacher-based assessments and exams all have accessibility and inclusion at their core. This means ensuring any software used e.g. CAD in Technical Graphics is fully accessible and exams can be completed in the student’s preferred format e.g. digitally or with a scribe. Presently there are inconsistencies in how the reasonable accommodations applicable to exams are applied.”

“We know that assistive or mainstream technology is a key enabler for students who are blind or vision impaired but if a student is required to work on the new teacher-based assessments outside of the school, it is important students have access to that technology at home too, which is not always the case at the moment.”

NCBI is calling on the primary actors of this reform, namely Department of Education, The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the State Examinations Commission (SEC) to ensure accessibility is in all components of the reform package to guarantee no student living with sight loss is disadvantaged.

NCBI welcomes the reference to a revised Transition Year programme which could provide an opportunity to formalise the variety of modules available to students to enhance their independence and grow their non-academic skill sets which play a key role in preparing students for the Leaving Certificate and life after school.