PRESS RELEASE: New reforms create the right conditions for improving students’ experience of education

Published date: 
11 Jul 2023


New reforms create the right conditions for improving students’ experience of education – say the ISSU, the Children's Rights Alliance and the National Parents Council 


Today (11.07.2023) The Irish Second-Level Students' Union (ISSU), the Children's Rights Alliance and the National Parents Council join forces for a public event focused on the future of education. The event will bring together stakeholders from across the country to hear insights on the current developments and reforms in the education space. The event will also feature a keynote address by the Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD.

President of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU), Shari Irfan spoke to the importance of the students’ voice in shaping the future of education, stating “Students have been at the forefront in advocacy and change within the education sector over the last number of years. The ISSU has continued to use our seat on the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to push for long-overdue change to the curriculum. Change that ensures that students are not put under undue pressure, change that ensures that SEN students are represented adequately, change that is student centred.”

“We now have the opportunity to push for Senior Cycle reform and to use the Citizens Assembly on the Future of Education to consult with the public and students directly. We believe it is crucial that the approach the Citizens Assembly takes is student-focused and that the outcomes reduce the stress put on students. It is also important to further ensure a long-term plan for senior cycle reform is put in place. For this to succeed, all stakeholders must be involved to ensure a fair and balanced approach. The curriculum must reflect the reality of today's world to give students the best experience possible.”

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance added:
“The developments currently underway to reform our education system have helped create the conditions for long-overdue change. For too long the one-size-fits-all education system we have had has put enormous pressure on students and in some cases, completely failed to meet their educational needs. The tunnel-vision prioritisation of exam performance fails to recognise other ways of learning and narrows students’ own aspirations while in education. Students are also reporting concerning levels of extreme stress during exam years including anxiety, depression and insomnia. If we are serious about creating an education system with the student at its heart, then student wellbeing must come first with future reforms. We hope to see this approach reflected in the Citizen’s Assembly on the Future of Education to ensure consideration is given to every child’s journey through education, from their early years through to further studies so that every child is supported to reach their full potential.”

“The work to review the national curricula and the support needs of our diverse student population edge us closer to an education system that reflects the current context and lived experiences of young people in Ireland today. However, that has been a long time coming. Government must ensure all efforts are made to advance the Citizen’s Assembly to avoid any further delays bringing our education system forward.”

Áine Lynch, CEO of the National Parents Council emphasised the need for reforms and supports at all stages of education in order to lay the foundations for further progress to happen.

“The recently announced pilot mental health supports for primary schools are an important milestone in addressing children’s needs. A child has to be ready to learn and their positive mental health and wellbeing is central to creating a climate for such learning to happen. It will be vital following this pilot phase, that services are evaluated and then improved and embedded in our education system. It will then be essential that any learnings are applied to extend mental health services to our students in post primary schools as quickly as possible.”

“For children and young people, living a mentally healthy life is essential to their growth and development, but it is also essential for the development of a healthier society. It beholds our education system to create the right environment for children and young people to live mentally healthy lives and that is why senior cycle reform is so necessary and urgent.”

“Senior cycle reform alone, however, will not create the education system we need in a rapidly developing world and society, which is why the Citizen’s Assembly for Education needs to happen as soon as possible. Imagining the education system we want for the future is an exciting task and to ensure these reforms are the right ones for our young people, will require us to listen to all perspectives and critically, we need to have the right mechanisms to hear diverse voices and most importantly children’s and young people’s views.”

“The time is right now to have these conversations and make brave and bold decisions quickly, to stall in this work would result in thousands of children continuing to be bruised by a system that is in our collective control to change.”




Robyn Keleghan: 087 136 8975/ 

Notes to Editors:
• Shari Irfan, President, ISSU / Heather Doyle, Education Officer, ISSU are available for interview
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, is available for interview.
• Áine Lynch, CEO of National Parents Council, is available for interview.

About the Children’s Rights Alliance:
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 145 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL #FutureOfEducation