The objectives of Leaving Certificate Computer Science are well aligned with the vision and principles of senior cycle education. Learners in senior cycle are approaching the end of their time in school and are focusing on the directions they would like to take in their future lives. Senior cycle plays a vital role in helping learners to address their current needs as resourceful, confident, engaged and active young adults and in preparing them for life in a changing economic and social context (Figure 1).
Senior cycle is founded on a commitment to educational achievement of the highest standard for all students, commensurate with their individual abilities. To support students as they shape their own future, there is an emphasis on the development of knowledge and deep understanding; on students taking responsibility for their own learning; on the acquisition of key skills; and on the processes of learning. The broad curriculum, with some opportunities for specialisation, supports continuity from junior cycle and sets out to meet the needs of students, some of whom have special educational needs, but all of whom share a wide range of learning interests, aptitudes and talents.
Curriculum components at senior cycle promote a balance between knowledge and skills, and the kinds of learning strategies relevant to participation in, and contribution to, a changing world where the future is uncertain.
The experience of senior cycle
The vision of senior cycle (Figure 2) sees the learner at the centre of the educational experience. That experience will enable students to be resourceful, to be confident, to participate actively in society, to build an interest in learning, and develop an ability to learn throughout their lives.
This vision of the learner is underpinned by the values on which senior cycle is based and it is realised through the principles that inform the curriculum as it is experienced by students in schools. The curriculum, made up of subjects and courses, embedded key skills, clearly expressed learning outcomes, and supported by a range of approaches to assessment, is the vehicle through which the vision becomes a reality for the learner.
At a practical level, the provision of a high-quality educational experience in senior cycle is supported by:
- effective curriculum planning, development, organisation and evaluation
- teaching and learning approaches that motivate and interest students, that enable them to progress, that deepen and apply their learning, and that develop their capacity to reflect on their learning
- professional development for teachers and school management that enables them to lead curriculum development and change in their schools
- a school culture that respects students, that encourages them to take responsibility for their own learning over time, and that promotes a love of learning.
Senior cycle education is situated in the context of a broader education policy that focuses on the contribution that education can make to the development of the learner as a person and as a citizen. It is an education policy that emphasises the promotion of social cohesion, the growth of society and the economy, and the principle of sustainability in all aspects of development.