This discussion paper on the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) programme
has been prepared for the National Council for Curriculum and
Assessment (NCCA) to inform a review of senior cycle school education
in Ireland. The purpose of the paper is to draw together existing research
and data on the LCA and highlight policy lessons that can be learned from
these studies. The paper is divided into three sections. Firstly, we provide
a brief overview of the LCA in the context of international research on
tracking and curriculum differentiation. The second section of this paper
provides analysis of recent data on provision and uptake of the LCA using
annual statistics from the Department of Education and Skills. Finally,
we examine existing research and debates on the role and function of
the LCA within senior cycle education in Ireland. We focus primarily on
policy lessons from a range of empirical research carried out on the LCA
programme covering the following themes:
• Decision-making around school provision of LCA
• Student pathways into LCA
• Student experiences of the programme
• Outcomes after leaving school compared to other Leaving Certificate
• The role and function of LCA within broader senior cycle provision
The paper concludes with a discussion around keys issues for the LCA
now and in future.