Méid an Téacs

Tensions increase between Quinn and teachers over Junior Cert reforms

Deireadh Fómhair 29, 2013

Tensions are increasing between Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn and secondary teachers over the implementation of proposed Junior Cert reforms.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) general secretary Pat King said yesterday the abolition of the Junior Cert would leave students with no State examination before the Leaving Cert. While teachers liked some of the proposed changes, they were concerned that “the motivation for students will deteriorate and … that what is being proposed will change the relationship between students and teachers”.

The changes, first announced two years ago, are scheduled to begin on a phased basis next year for first examination in 2017. A single, terminal exam will be replaced by courses in areas such as computer design and physical education. Mr King said on RTÉ’s Drivetime that teachers wanted to be advocates for students, not their judges, and believed in an external, independent, objective evaluation of work. Mr Quinn said he was asking teachers to get involved in an assessment for learning and of learning. “Teachers are doing this in other countries around the world and it is having satisfactory results.” Earlier on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Quinn insisted current resources were sufficient for the phasing in of the new structures. However, he added, “we can make more resources available should that prove to be necessary”.

ASTI sources said there was “very substantial” concern among teachers about the availability of adequate resources and training. The ASTI said the one-day training course for English teachers was “totally inadequate”. Fianna Fáil education spokesman Charlie McConalogue said it was crucial that independent assessment remained a core part of a reformed Junior Cert. “I have said previously that I am concerned about the eight-year roll out of the reform agenda and that issues around funding, teacher-training and assessment need to be clarified by Minister Quinn.”