Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education & Skills Charlie McConalogue has welcomed the agreement reached between teachers unions and the Department of Education on Junior Cert reforms, but has criticised Minister Jan O’Sullivan’s handling of the situation.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “While ultimately we now have agreement on a roadmap for reform, the way in which successive Education Ministers managed the process has been appalling. Ruairi Quinn’s solo run in tabling reforms without any consultation with teachers was the first step in a process which saw the NCCA, parents, pupils and teachers sidelined as he attempted to push through changes without any support from the people he was relying on implementing them.
“The appointment of Jan O’Sullivan as Education Minister last year offered an opportunity for the Government to start afresh and adopt a more inclusive approach by taking the concerns of the teaching unions on board and working with them to find a practical solution. However, her refusal to engage with the unions frustrated teachers and led to almost a year of discontent and two days of industrial action.
“While I welcome the fact that agreement has been reached, a deal could have been achieved much earlier had the Minister been prepared to negotiate with teachers and listen to their concerns instead of attempting to press ahead with an unworkable proposition.
“The deal which has been agreed is vastly different from the drastic reforms proposed by former Minister Quinn in 2014 and removes the contentious issue of teachers marking their students work. It begs the question, if the Minister could concede on this issue now, why could she not have adopted these measures last year and avoided all the interim industrial turmoil.
“Both sides now need to engage meaningfully to ensure that these proposals are adopted and that the ongoing industrial unrest is brought to an end. The ultimate goal here is a better curriculum for our students. We need to ensure that pupils are more engaged with the learning process and there is a responsibility on Minister O’Sullivan and teachers to achieve this”.