Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Charlie McConalogue is urging Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to enter mediation talks with teacher representatives on the proposed reform of the Junior Cert, under the auspicious of an independent mediator. Deputy McConalogue said: “It’s clear that trust needs to be built up in this process or the reform agenda will go nowhere fast.”
He added: “I don’t think anyone will benefit from a fractious or divisive process and I do not want to see teachers going down the road of industrial action or non-co-operation or feel that they have to in order for their voices to be heard. Unfortunately the the Minister has, until now, paid little more than lip service to teachers and many others who have expressed concerns in relation to junior cert reform plans.
“I am urging the Minister to act now on the issue and seek to use the conciliation service available at the Labour Relations Commission to build renewed trust among teachers’ unions and the Department of Education. In the event of any form of industrial action both sides will likely end up before the LRC anyway. The Minister should be looking at everything possible to avoid a divisive dispute.
“Fundamentally this is about the beginning of a major reform of our education system and we have to get it right from the start. This is about teachers and parents having confidence and trust in the reform agenda and those leading it. Without that confidence I believe the buy-in needed by parents and ultimately the students, who will be directly affected by a reformed Junior Cert, will be harder to gain.
“If the Minister is serious about bringing teachers along in this process he will find the appropriate forum to reach out and ensure we have a genuinely inclusive consultation process.”