Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Arts & Heritage Niamh Smyth is lending her support to calls for an overhaul of the Leaving Cert Art curriculum.  The subject’s Leaving Cert syllabus has not been updated since 1972 and there are concerns that pupils are being turned off the subject as it is now widely recognised as being the difficult of all 32 Leaving Cert subjects to get an A1 grade in.

Deputy Smyth explained, “This country has such as strong appreciation of the arts and creative sectors that it seems implausible that the art curriculum in our schools is so out of date.  It’s time for the Minister to realise the importance of art in our education system and give it the attention it deserves.  The subject has been pushed into the background for too long and it’s time for the Department of Education together with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to review the current curriculum.

“The fact that Leaving Cert art is not even a requirement for third level arts courses is remarkable.  Students applying to art colleges have to produce an additional portfolio of work, which can put huge time and financial pressure on students and their parents during their Leaving Cert year.  We need to see better coordination between the second and third level sectors to ensure that students are not being forced to double up on work.

“There is a real concern that the numbers of students taking Leaving Cert art is falling because of the volume of work involved in the course.  Students are expected to study the history of European and Irish art, craft and design from c3200BC to modern day, but only 44 hours are set aside for teaching.  This is a challenge for both the students and their teachers.

“There is no doubt that art and culture plays a major role in Irish society and it should be bolstered and encouraged within our schools.  The current curriculum is prohibitively rigid and discourages students from continuing with the subject to Leaving Cert level.  I am urging Minister Bruton to seriously consider recommending a review of the current curriculum so that more students will opt to study art at second and third level”.