Fianna Fáil has again pledged its support for radical reform of the Junior Certificate and has welcomed the moves by this Government to continue with the reform process started by Fianna Fáil in Government.


Reacting to the report from the National Council for Curriculum Reform (NCCA), Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education & Skills Brendan Smith said: “We believe that the Junior Certificate is badly in need of reform and that is why the previous Fianna Fáil Government set the ball rolling by commissioning expert reports and undertaking a public consultation. This culminated in the NCCA report submitted to the now Education Minister Ruairí Quinn last month and I am pleased that he has agreed to press ahead with what is a necessary move.


“On the face of it, the NCCA report includes some excellent initiatives, including the greater emphasis on continuous assessment and the introduction of short courses to run alongside core subjects. However we need clarity from the Minister as to how he will ensure that short courses will be provided on an equitable basis, to avoid a scenario where well-funded private schools can pump resources into running a range of exciting and dynamic short courses, while disadvantaged schools do not have the resources to do so,”  concluded Deputy Smith.


Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Education Senator Averil Power has called on Minister Quinn to make science a compulsory subject at Junior Cert level.


Senator Power commented, “The NCCA report does not name science as a compulsory subject for Junior Cert students and I think this is a mistake. We have pumped enormous resources into improving the facilities for teaching science in our secondary schools, including building and upgrading laboratories and providing equipment for hands-on learning.  This is because it is widely accepted that we need to improve maths and science skills of our young people, to prepare them for high-quality jobs and help attract foreign direct investment.  The time is right now to give every young person the opportunity to explore the world of science while they are young and see if they wish to continue these studies after the Junior cycle.”


Senator Power continued, “While we welcome many of the initiatives in this report, we need further detail from Minister Quinn about how he intends to implement the changes.  We want to ensure that this isn’t just an empty announcement – there must be a real plan in place that can be rolled out across the country.  We look forward to discussing the measures in greater detail with Minister Quinn and the NCCA.”