16 November, 2020 – Minister Foley announces new Industry Framework to support roll-out of Leaving Certificate Computer Science

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD today (Monday 16 November) announced details of a new industry framework to support the implementation of the subject Leaving Certificate Computer Science.

The framework has been developed by an industry and Department of Education partnership, including representatives of the Computers in Education Society of Ireland (CESI), Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), Irish University Association (IUA), Higher Education Institutions and IBEC.

Minister Foley said: “I am delighted with this unique collaboration between my Department and industry to support and sustain Leaving Certificate Computer Science into the future. This collaboration forms a strong partnership that I am confident will harness and promote Computer Science as a ’subject for all’ in post-primary schools into the future.”

“The framework puts in place key actions that will be taken to promote a broad take-up of the subject at both ordinary and higher level. There will be a focus on actions to support greater female participation and greater participation amongst students that would not have traditionally considered subjects like Computer Science for the Leaving Certificate.

“Under the framework, there is a great opportunity to broaden the subject’s appeal, through creative partnerships with stakeholders to promote visible career paths such as apprenticeships and Level 5, 6 NFQ programmes in further education”. 

“Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) permeate every aspect of today’s world. The innovations that emerge from these fields underpin so much of our economic development, and lead to creative enterprises and rewarding careers. People working in STEM in Ireland are changing the face of the world we live in everyday, whether it is by making life-saving drugs and devices, creating new technologies that keep us healthier and safer, enhancing how we learn, how we work, how we share and create, and of course, entertaining us”.

“The society in which our children will grow up, will be one that has been fundamentally transformed by new technologies. The global pandemic has highlighted as never before our reliance on and the increasing need for skills in technology. Our education system must prepare our children to thrive in such an environment by equipping them with necessary skills in creativity, adaptability and problem solving”.

“The introduction of Leaving Certificate Computer Science (LCCS) also complements other curricular changes such as introducing coding and computational thinking for students in Junior Cycle and as part of the new maths curriculum in primary schools. I want to thank all of the partners involved in this important development.”

The introduction of Computer Science as a Leaving Certificate subject was a key action in the Government’s STEM Action Plan 2017-2019. The subject specification for Computer Science along with the Framework of Continuing Professional Development designed to support its implementation was launched in September 2018.

Leaving Certificate Computer Science has been offered by 40 schools since 2018, and 52 further schools have introduced the subject in September 2020.

Students of computer science will study computational thinking, programming languages, how computers impact on society and through applied learning tasks will engage in individual and collaborative design processes. The development of skills such as problem solving, personal effectiveness, communication, creative and critical thinking in students is a core objective of the specification. Students have the option of taking the subject at higher or ordinary level in the Leaving Certificate examination.

An evaluation of the continuous professional development to support Leaving Certificate Computer Science was conducted by LERO – the Irish Software Research Centre in 2019/20.

One of the findings reflects the positivity of teachers towards the collaboration of stakeholders in the success of Phase 1 where many of the teachers commented on the additional support and professional development they had received from the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) and, on a voluntary basis, from higher education institutions and other organisations. This support reflects the broad enthusiasm and support amongst those in the Computer Science community in Ireland for this curriculum innovation. This support will undoubtedly sustain the momentum of this curriculum innovation and contribute to a strong professional community of Computer Science teachers into the future.

Feedback from students in the LERO report highlights the wider set of skills and competencies that the students have acquired in studying the subject attests to its universal value for all students.

To assist with teacher supply for the subject of Computer Science, the Minister recently approved the criteria for Computer Science and welcomes the publication of the criteria for registration as a post-primary teacher of the subject by the Teaching Council on 11 November.