Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has criticised Minister Jan O’Sullivan for failing to progress reforms to the CAO and third level entry system. The changes, which will come into force in 2017, see a broader points scale introduced, but fall far short of the radical reforms which were promised.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “While the new grades points scale announced this week is a small step in the right direction, it does not deliver on the substantial reforms which were promised by Minister O’Sullivan. The changes fail to simplify the CAO system and will only bring about a marginal broadening of the entry requirements for third level courses.
“The Minister has heralded these reforms as the most significant in decades. This is a farcical assertion as the changes fail to deal with the core issues that are the main cause of stress among Leaving Cert students. As usual, the Minister is trying to embellish the level of reform that she’s bringing forward to mask her failure to more meaningful, ambitious reforms to the CAO and Leaving Cert system.
“It is unfair to students, who are already facing the stress of sitting their Leaving Cert exams, to have to fill in a CAO form of staggering complexity, due to the high number of small, specialised courses being offered through the CAO.
“The reforms announced today do nothing to help students to make reasoned and informed choices about their future career and education choices. The loss of guidance counselling services, particularly in working class schools, has left a disjointed and inequitable access to appropriate guidance for students.
“Without specialist guidance advice, young people find it difficult cope with the wide range of options open to them. The removal of guidance counselling from schools is one of the single greatest cuts in the education sector and has one of the greatest ramifications for children’s future outcomes. The lack of guidance provision has massive future costs for young people, their families and, ultimately, the State.
“Rather than congratulating herself on these modest reforms, the Minister should deal with the more pertinent crisis and reinstate guidance counsellors to our schools”.