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History To Be Made A Compulsory Subject For Secondary School Students

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh has moved to request that History be granted a special core status in the framework for the Junior Cert cycle.

This would mean that Junior Cycle students will be obliged to study History.

At the moment Irish, English and Maths are the only 'mandatory' subjects.

The decision surrounding the subject's fate for students in Junior Cycle sparked a passionate national debate, with President Michael D Higgins expressing "deep and profound concern" about history not being a core subject.

McHugh is going against the advice of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), which maintains it should remain an optional subject.

He said he had given "full consideration" to NCCA advice but was asking it to work with him to restructure the Junior Cycle so that History was awarded a special place in the curriculum.

The minister wants the change to be implemented by next September and will not await a planned NCCA evaluation in two years' time.

"I am hugely grateful to the NCCA for the work they’ve done and their review, but I do not believe optional history is right for our schools and the times we live in," he added.

Moving forward, the minister will seek the support of the NCCA in devising a new structure for the Junior Cycle, positioning History as an optional subject for students.

"The report was comprehensive and put forward a strong case," McHugh noted.

“I have given it full consideration over the last two months, as well as taking on board the views of many people I meet on a daily basis who dedicate their lives and careers to education and to nurturing the minds of young people.

“My view is that our education system is responsive and progressive enough to allow for the Junior Cycle Framework to be structured in such a way for history to have a special core status."

Several months ago, Michael D Higgins led his own charge about the status of History in the new Junior Cycle, stating that a knowledge of history was "intrinsic to our shared citizenship, to be without such knowledge is to be permanently burdened with a lack of perspective, empathy and wisdom".

“The optional nature of history in the Junior Cycle framework was due to be reviewed two years from now but I am not prepared to risk a fall in the number of students studying history in that time," McHugh continued.

“The Junior Cycle framework focuses on core learning as opposed to core subjects. It is my view, after long consideration, that History is central to that.”

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