Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has said he is disappointed to see the breakdown of talks over reform of the junior cert but has welcomed the Government’s u-turn on independent assessment and state certification.

Deputy McConalogue commented: “I welcome the fact that Minister Jan O’Sullivan has finally relented and agreed to maintain independent assessment and state certification for the 60% of the new junior cert which will be composed of a written exam.  Fianna Fáil has consistently called for a more inclusive and open process of negotiation on reform than the approach adopted by the Government.  Former Minister Quinn pursued his reform proposals in a confrontational and dictatorial way and it is clear that this has soured relations between the Department of Education and some teacher representatives.  Minister O’Sullivan seems to be taking a different approach and appears more willing to listen to the concerns of parents and teachers and I welcome that.

“Fianna Fáil is a strong advocate for maintaining independent assessment of the new junior cert exam.  I think the government’s u-turn is a positive step and I would urge teachers to step back and consider the proposals being put forward now.  I believe if they can find a way to engage with the department and the minister with the purpose of trying to reach an agreed way forward then our education system will be stronger for it.

“Fianna Fáil has consistently said that we felt the Government was rushing these reforms and that it was more important that reform of this nature and on this scale would be done right rather than hastily.  We believe in reforming the junior cert and we want to see a new exam structure that delivers high quality education for students.  I believe we are a lot closer to that now than we were in recent weeks and months.  However I also believe the Government has to accept that its approach from the outset did not engender much goodwill from the stakeholders in the process who ultimately we rely on to enact these reforms in our schools.”