Two brand new subjects announced for the Leaving Cert as part of major overhaul 1 year ago

Two brand new subjects announced for the Leaving Cert as part of major overhaul

The arts and a more sustainable future take centre stage.

Two new subjects will be added to the Leaving Cert curriculum as part of a major education overhaul.


Announced by Minister for Education Norma Foley on Tuesday (29 March), the 'Equity and Excellence for All' programme represents a three-pronged approach to reforming the senior cycle of education for post-primary students.

The three tenets of the proposed reform aims to:

  • Empower students to meet the challenges of the 21st century
  • Enrich the student experience and build on the strength of the current system
  • Embed wellbeing and reduce student stress levels

Continuous assessment "consistent with international best practice" will play a greater role in the future as the Department of Education seeks to establish additional elements outside of traditional final written exams.


As such, written examinations will represent no more than 60% of a student's final mark, with continuous assessment to account for the 40% remainder.

In tandem with the overall approach, two new subjects are being introduced in network schools for fifth year students from 2024 – Drama, Film and Theatre Studies, and Climate Action and Sustainable Development.

In a bid to usher in a sense of the new system and to "ensure a positive impact", Leaving Certificate established students entering the senior cycle in September of 2023 will sit paper one in English and Irish at the end of fifth year, instead of the following year.

A revised Transition Year model is also mooted, with greater access on encouraging students to take part.


Minister Foley has requested the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) to invite a selection of schools, representative of the different types and sizes of schools, to become 'network schools'.

Network schools will be given the opportunity to participate at an early stage in revised curriculum and assessment arrangements.

These schools will receive support through a variety of forms to enable their participation.

Guidance for schools and students on the plans for Senior Cycle reform is available at, though the link is non-operational at the time of writing.


"This is an ambitious programme of reform," said Minister Foley.

"The second half of post-primary education, Senior Cycle, prepares our students to progress to the next stage in their lives.

"Whether they choose a path of further training, apprenticeship, higher education or employment, it is vital that the education and the opportunities they receive in their school life at second level develops them academically, nurtures them as people and supports them to grow their talents, interests and skills.

"It is then vital that the form of assessment we use both reflects excellence in standards and truly enables all students to showcase their abilities," Minister Foley added.

Featured Image of Norma Foley via Sasko Lazarov /