Fianna Fáil has welcomed plans for radical reform of the Junior Certificate, but has raised concerns about the lack of detail provided today by the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn.


In particular, the party’s Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has questioned the 8 year time-frame for the full implementation of the plan and the lack of detail about funding and teacher training.


“If this reform plan was prepared thoroughly with the extensive consultation of all the relevant stake-holders, there would be absolutely no need to wait until 2020 for its full implementation,” said Deputy McConalogue.


“I am concerned that protracted roll-out can only mean one thing:  Minister Quinn has no plan and this process will be made up as he goes along.  When asked how the new Junior Cert programme would be funded, the Minister had no clear answer, no figures and no time-frame.  He simply said he is ‘confident that he will secure the resources necessary’. 


“There are also questions about how teachers will be supported in implementing the new programme. The Minister made very little reference to the professional development of teachers throughout this process, and how he intends to enable them in creating an enhanced learning environment around this new assessment programme.


“There is no doubt that the Junior Cert is desperately in need of reform.  That is why the previous Fianna Fáil led government began the process of commissioning expert analysis and consulting the public on a complete overhaul of the Junior Cert. I believe we need to move to a system based on continuous assessment that takes inappropriate pressure of students, keeps them engaged and enhances their learning environment.  But if we are to instigate such radical reform, we have to do it right. 


“Such radical reform must be based on meticulous planning and preparation, and following extensive consultation.  While parents and students will welcome the idea of this new plan, the devil is in the detail when it comes to how it will work in practice.  We need to hear more from Minister Quinn about how exactly this will be resourced and what measures are in place ensure that schools are equipped to ensure that this truly transforms the classroom in the way we hope it will.”