Computer Science to be offered in Irish secondary curriculum by 2019

According to RTE news, the Irish Minister for Education has said that Computer Science, including programming, will be a Leaving Certificate subject by 2019, paving the way for Irish students to have the option to study the subject at secondary school. However the nature of the curriculum has not been settled, nor is not known how many schools will offer the subject. The rules in Irish schools vary, but most require students to take seven subjects for the Leaving Certificate. Some students may take fewer, for example, those who are not taking Irish. Other students may choose to take more. There is no specific rule about how many subjects a student should take, however students must pass six subjects in the Leaving Certificate in order to be eligible for NFQ Level 8 (honours) undergraduate degrees, and the CAO uses a student’s best six subjects to determine CAO points (which determine eligibility to study at the undergraduate level). Every student must take English, mathematics and Irish, unless they have an exemption from Irish. Students will normally choose another four subjects [1].

The UK’s computing curriculum, as part of the UK National Curriculum, has been running since September 2014 for students in primary and secondary school. The road to this curriculum was long and winding, which Neil C. C. Brown and colleagues document in this ACM Transactions on Computing Education paper.  In the US, the CS4all initiative is helping organise efforts to bring computer science to primary and secondary schools, where the landscape is complicated due to primary and secondary schooling being overseen largely at the state level. According to Code.org, only 33 states allow students to count Computer Science courses toward their high school graduation requirements, leaving them to take classes, if they’re offered, as electives. However, Computer Science classes still aren’t even an option for high school students in many districts. See the last link for an interactive map that summarises the status of Computer Science efforts in each state. This week, as part of Computer Science Education Week, the White House announced efforts in two federal agencies to expand access to and quality of computer science education in US K-12 schools [2].

 

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