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Agricultural Science teachers call for Leaving Cert curriculum overhaul

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Eddie Holton said just two of his 24 Leaving Cert students have access to farms

Eddie Holton said just two of his 24 Leaving Cert students have access to farms

Eddie Holton said just two of his 24 Leaving Cert students have access to farms

Agricultural Science teachers claimed this week that major changes to the subject’s curriculum will need to be made for the coming year’s Leaving Certificate students due to Covid-19.

An important element of the new curriculum for agricultural science is the individual investigative study (IIS) which accounts for 25pc of the overall mark.

However, agricultural science teacher, Eddie Holton, pointed out that students will be unable to get the required access to farms to complete their IIS projects over the coming nine months because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

He said the issue was continually being raised by teachers, and was a source of concern and stress for students and their parents.

Mr Holton, who teaches at the Maynooth Education Campus, said that just two of his 24 Leaving Cert students have access to farms.

He explained that visits to farms are a key element of completing the IIS work, which explores sustainability in agriculture, but that this is impossible for the vast majority of students who are not from farming families.

“One of my students hopes to look at the impact on grass growth of using the splash plate versus the trailing shoe when spreading slurry,” Mr Holton explained.

“How is the student going to get access to the farm to collect the data for this project under the current Covid-19 restrictions,” he asked.

“There is no way in the world that we can undertake these projects with the way the Covid-19 restrictions stand,” Mr Holton said.

He said the Department of Education needed to amend the curriculum in order to remove or significantly change the structure of the IIS.

“Teachers are already being approached by parents regarding the IIS. It is becoming a real source of stress for the students and their parents,” Mr Holton said.

Although the structure of the IIS was to be agreed with teachers by the start of the 2019-2020 academic year, Mr Holton said it was December of last year before teachers received the final details of the IIS.

“This meant that students and teachers had just three months to get their projects up and going before the schools were shut as a result of Covid-19,” he explained.

Mr Holton maintained that it was unfair to ask students to ask students to now complete two years’ of work in just nine months.

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