School level

Curriculum-Related Developments at Senior Cycle

The Department of Education and Skills has released a circular detailing the curriculum-related developments at Senior Cycle with particular reference to school years 2019/2020 and 2020/2021, including the discontinuance of Leaving Certificate Agricultural Economics.

The following points were noted on the circular:

  1. Revised Specifications
  2. New Specifications
  3. Senior Cycle Physical Education Framework
  4. Discontinuance of Leaving Certificate Agricultural Economics
  5. Future Developments
  6. Review of Senior Cycle

The following points are a summary of the key points noted in the circular. It is recommended that school authorities read the official circular given at the following link.

Revised Specifications

The following specifications will replace existing specifications, with implementation commencing from September 2019 or September 2020.

Revised Leaving Certificate Subject SpecificationIntroduced to 5th year studentsFirst Leaving Certificate examination
Agricultural ScienceSeptember 2019June 2021
EconomicsSeptember 2019June 2021
ArtSeptember 2020June 2022

 Responding to change:

  • Implementation of the revised specifications will be supported by a programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) provided by the Professional Development Service of Teachers (PDST).
  • Teachers can share resources on Scoilnet by mapping resources to the new specification strands and learning outcomes. Multi-mapping between strands and learning outcomes is possible. 
  • The PDST Agricultural Science team has created a dedicated page within Scoilnet to highlight the classroom-based resources showcased at their CPD events.
  • A Scoilnet subject editor has uploaded some resources to the new Economics specification here.

New Specifications

From the start of the 2020/21 school year, the following subjects will be available to all schools that wish to offer them as additional optional Leaving Certificate subjects for examination.

New specificationNational Rollout - Introduced to 5th year studentsFirst Leaving Certificate examination
Computer ScienceSeptember 20202022
Leaving Certificate Physical EducationSeptember 20202022

 Responding to change:

  • Compsci.ie is a new website created by and for computer science teachers. The development of the site is a result of collaboration between Scoilnet, and PDST Computer Science team.
  • Teachers can share resources through Scoilnet using their Scoilnet account and tag the resources to the new specification strands and learning outcomes.

 Senior Cycle Physical Education Framework

The Senior Cycle Physical Education Framework is designed to support teachers in planning quality learning in Physical Education for all students in senior cycle and will not be assessed as part of the Leaving Certificate examination. The framework will replace the guidelines set out in the Rules and Programmes for Secondary Schools which currently forms the basis for physical education at Senior Cycle. The framework is available here.

Discontinuance of Leaving Certificate Agricultural Economics

The subject Agricultural Economics will be examined for the last time during the Leaving Certificate examination in June 2020.

Future Developments

Revised specifications in Leaving Certificate Applied Mathematics and Leaving Certificate Classical Studies as well as Leaving Certificate Applied Module Descriptors in English and Communications, ICT, and Mathematical Applications are being finalised.

Languages Connect, Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026, contains a commitment to commence development of Leaving Certificate specifications in Mandarin Chinese Polish, Lithuanian and Portuguese, with a view to implementation from September 2020 and first examination in June 2022.

Review of Senior Cycle

The NCCA have commenced a review of senior cycle programmes and vocational pathways, to include Transition Year, Leaving Certificate Applied, Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme and the Leaving Certificate Established. More information on the Senior Cycle Review is available on the NCCA website here.


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