All schools will be required to offer history as a Junior Cycle subject from September and all students entering first year at that time will be required to study history as part of the curriculum.

A statement from Minister for Education Joe McHugh today reiterated a ministerial decision made last October, after controversy arose over the perceived downgrading of the subject.

Under a recently introduced Junior Cycle framework, which saw significant reform of learning, history lost what was a de facto status as a core Junior Cycle subject.

While the subject was mandatory in only around half of schools, in practice nine out of ten students studied the subject at Junior Cycle level.

Under the new framework however, Junior Cycle history became optional in all schools. This led to concern that far fewer students would study the subject.

Critics included President Michael D Higgins, who expressed "deep and profound concern" at the development.

Last October, Mr McHugh announced that the subject would remain 'core’ at Junior Cycle level.

In a statement issued today, the minister reiterated that the vast majority of students will follow the existing Junior Cycle history specification.

This new history specification was introduced to schools in September 2018, as part of the rollout of the Junior Cycle Framework.

There are 21 subjects being offered under the framework. Three of these, Mathematics, English and Irish, are mandatory and require a minimum of 240 hours of learning.

History has now been added to the list and will require a minimum of 200 hours learning.

The other 17 subjects remain optional, within the overall requirement to study up to a maximum of ten subjects.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is also being asked to develop a short course in history for certain students with general learning difficulties/needs.

Students in this category will not be required to study the subject ahead of the new short course being made available in September 2021.

The department will issue directions to schools regarding practical arrangements for the implementation of the minister's decision to accord history special core status.