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Review of history as optional subject to be ready in weeks

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Education Minister Joe McHugh. Picture: Frank McGrath

Education Minister Joe McHugh. Picture: Frank McGrath

Education Minister Joe McHugh. Picture: Frank McGrath

A review of the place of history as an optional subject at Junior Cert level will be complete by the end of March.

Education Minister Joe McHugh announced his plan to have the decision reviewed at the Fine Gael Ard Fhéis last year and has now indicated it will be finalised in a matter of weeks.

The report is being prepared by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and comes amid fierce lobbying for the subject to be made compulsory. President Michael D Higgins is among those who have called for history to be made compulsory.

Under long-mooted junior cycle reforms, English, Irish and maths are the only core subjects and schools have freedom to choose what others they want to offer.

While uptake has traditionally been high among schools for the subject, fears emerged on the back of the reforms, including the introduction of new subjects, that the subject will be squeezed out.

Mr McHugh has previously expressed his own support for the suggestion that the subject of history should be mandatory for teenagers up to Junior Cert level and he re-affirmed his support on radio.

"At a personal level and as somebody who has really, really started to appreciate and understand history through my re-learning of Irish, it's more important now than ever that we put our history to the forefront and I want to do that," he said.

Mr McHugh was speaking with Ryan Tubridy on Radio One following an interview the broadcaster did the previous day with recent school leaver Rhona Butler. Ms Butler lost her mother in the middle of her Leaving Cert exams but still had to attend exams the following day. She has called for a bereavement process to be put in place.

Mr McHugh said a separate review is under way to ensure there is flexibility for "reasonable accommodation" for people who find themselves in the midst of personal circumstances that would hamper their ability to attend exams.

"I want to see something done in a positive way which will reflect the human contribution from Rhona," he said.

Irish Independent