Leaving Certificate students will have the option of studying a new subject climate action and sustainable development as early as 2024, according to Minister for Education Norma Foley.

Minister Foley announced the new second-level senior cycle subject on Tuesday, alongside a series of other measures for the reform of the traditional Leaving Cert exams.

It is not yet known what the subject will entail, but the move comes following a recommendation from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), the body tasked with reviewing the senior cycle, that the senior cycle should “help young people as they enter an adulthood where global challenges such as sustainability and climate change can have very local and personal impacts”.

Minister Foley announced that the subject will be ready for students in “network schools” starting fifth year in September 2024. These schools, selected across the country, will trial the subject.

Changes to agricultural science

The traditional agricultural science Leaving Cert subject is also set to see somewhat of an overhaul, with the Minister for Education announcing that the curriculum of all subjects will be reviewed as part of the reform.

As Leaving Certificate subjects are revised, they will gain assessment components additional to the conventional written exam worth 40% of the total marks and the value of the written exam itself will be reduced to be worth 60% of the student’s final score.

In some Leaving Cert subjects, this is likely to see major changes, but for those which already hold practical and project components, the changes are likely to be less extensive.


The current grading for Leaving Cert agricultural science is made up of a project worth 25%, while the remaining 75% of marks can be picked up in the written paper.

The reform means that a higher value will be placed on the agricultural science project, up to 40%, or that an additional course element such as further practical, field study or interview assessments could be added, including for students in fifth year.

Announcing the reform, Minister Foley said: "I look forward to working closely with our students, school communities, education partners, to co-create subject curricula and to collaborate across the work to bring this vision of enhanced experience, excellence and equity alive for all of our students."

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