Minister for Education Joe McHugh has said a leaked document on the place of History in the Junior Cycle at second level is still in the draft stages.

The draft report, which was obtained by RTÉ News, has not advised any change to the subject's optional status.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment was asked to carry out the review by Minister McHugh last November.

This came after controversy over the perceived "downgrading" of the subject to optional under the new Junior Cycle framework.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr McHugh said the NCCA needs to be given the time and space to come up with its own deliberations and observations.

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While the draft report into the status of history makes no specific recommendation, it does conclude that "changes to any single component or subject, such as History, has implications for the framework as a whole".

The NCCA's draft report is due to be discussed by its members in early May. They say that the next steps following that meeting will be based on the outcomes of the discussion that takes place.

Mr McHugh said he personally believes that some value should be placed on the subject [History] as we are at "an important juncture in terms of our own history" and the younger generation must be informed about where they have come from, in order to understand what kind of future can be created.

He said History remains a popular subject, taken by 90% of students, but is concerned that this could change over time.

RTÉ Brainstorm: Why history should remain compulsory for Junior Cycle

Historians and others had criticised the removal of history as a mandatory subject.

Until recently, History was a core subject in most secondary schools, but the new framework for the Junior Cycle removed its core status.

Calls for its reintroduction have been made by many people, including historians, teachers and President Michael D Higgins, who last April expressed his "deep and profound concern" about changes to the status of history saying "knowledge and understanding of history is intrinsic to our shared citizenship, to be without such knowledge is to be permanently burdened with a lack of perspective, empathy and wisdom".

These sentiments were echoed by historian Diarmaid Ferriter, who described it as a "serious mistake", adding, "there would also be nothing more ridiculous than the Irish State embarking on a series of commemorations to mark the War of Independence and Civil War and encouraging as much public engagement as possible with the past, while simultaneously permitting the downgrading of history in our schools".

Under the new Junior Cycle, Maths, English, Irish and Wellbeing are now core subjects.

Each individual school can decide what other subjects it will teach, but pupils are limited to ten subjects for certification.

History teachers and others are concerned that the new framework, which introduces additional subjects, will no longer have the space to allow pupils to study both History and Geography at Junior Cycle level.

Geography teachers are also calling for their subject to be restored to core status, but Geography is not included in the NCCA's review.

Additional reporting Emma O Kelly