Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education & Skills Charlie McConalogue has expressed concern that 10% of English teachers have not completed training programmes ahead of the roll out of new Junior Cert reforms, due to begin this September. The Donegal North East Deputy says this further highlights the need for the start date of the reforms to be delayed for a year.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “The appointment of Jan O’Sullivan as Education Minister signals a fresh start for the Department, and offers the opportunity to make a break from the policies of her predecessor. One of the main priorities for her tenure will be addressing the issue of Junior Cert reform, and while I strongly support Junior Cycle reform, it needs to start in an environment where outstanding issues have been resolved and proper training has been completed by teachers.
“Former Minister Ruairi Quinn damaged the reform process by choosing to ignore the advice of the National Council for Curriculum & Assessment as well as the concerns of teachers and parents with regard to maintaining independent assessment of the written exam in the new Junior Cycle Student Award. This decision created a significant divide between the Minister and secondary teachers resulting in industrial action by the main unions.
“Yesterday, during a topical issue debate which I raised in the Dáil, it emerged that 10% of teachers have not completed the Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) training programme. In my view, it is simply unacceptable to introduce a new curriculum in September when 10% of the teachers due to deliver it have not completed the required training. This is not the standard of reform we should be standing over in our education system.
“The dictatorial approach adopted by former Minister Ruairi Quinn to this essential reform has led to conflict with teachers rather than the type of partnership necessary to deliver the reforms successfully. Teacher unions have already adopted a policy of non-participation in meetings or further training relating to the new system.
“I believe it is now important for Minister O’Sullivan to take a new approach to the delivery of the reform programme in order to see the new Junior Cert successfully delivered. She should delay the introduction of the new English syllabus by twelve months and instead bring it in alongside the planned introduction of the new science curriculum in September 2015. This would see no delay in the completion time for reforms but would give the necessary space to ensure all teachers complete the required training, and allow a new partnership approach to be undertaken between the Minister and teachers to allow effective and agreed reform of the Junior Cert”, concluded Deputy McConalogue.