Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne has urged all sides to accept the compromise proposals put forward by the State Examination’s Commission (SEC) on assessment for Junior Cycle English.

Deputy Byrne has raised the issue on a number of occasions in the Dáil with Minister Bruton. He has highlighted the need for a compromise on assessment which will enable ASTI staffed schools to have another chance in April to carry out the classroom-based assessment under new conditions. This will help ensure students do not miss out on 10% of marks associated with the assessments.

Deputy Byrne said, “Students sitting the Junior Cert this year will be docked 10% should this dispute continue simply for being in an ASTI staffed school. This is highly unsatisfactory and is resulting in students being punished for something which is entirely beyond their control.

“I urge all sides in this dispute, including the ASTI Union and the Department of Education and Skills, to accept this compromise on assessment. This will allow students sitting their Junior Cert later in the year to have some peace of mind.

“I highlighted the need for a new mechanism to enable students to undertake the Oral component of their English Junior Cycle assessment. Thankfully, the SEC listened to reason on this issue and they have put forward a compromise proposal. I urge all sides to accept this proposal.

“Frankly, the intransigent stance of the Minister of this issue does not give me confidence. His willingness to allow students to automatically be deducted 10% of their marks is disproportionate and there is a real risk it could undermine the whole State Examinations system should it occur.

“ASTI acceptance of this compromise would be a show of good faith. It will take the issue off the table in the ongoing industrial dispute and no longer allow Minister Bruton to use it as a bargaining chip.

“I do have concerns that these students may not have been given much preparation by their teachers for doing these assessments. However, given the alternatives I believe that it would be better for them to sit this assessment, which is based on discussing their own written work, rather than automatically losing 10% of their marks.”