Fianna Fáil’s Education spokesperson Charlie McConalogue TD has called on the Education Minister to engage meaningfully with teachers unions to find a solution to the ongoing industrial unrest over the Junior Cert reform. His comments come after 84% of ASTI members voted overwhelmingly to extend their industrial action because of a lack of progress on the issue.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “Minister O’Sullivan’s handling of the planned reform of the Junior Cert has been extremely disappointing. She has continued to press ahead with the flawed and contentious approach adopted by her predecessor and has shown no intention of taking the concerns of teachers and parents on board.
“The Minister’s insistence on implementing the new English cycle this September has been met with fierce resistance from teachers who are worried about the abolition of independent assessment, a measure they claim will make the new cycle “educationally unsound”. Members of the ASTI have indicated through this ballot that they are prepared to stage a one-day strike to emphasise their concerns. The Minister’s botched management of this issue could now see students directly impacted by the fallout from this industrial relations dispute.
“Fianna Fáil recognises the need for reform of the Junior Cert; however it cannot be rushed through in a bullish manner without the support of educators and parents. Minister Quinn, and now Minister O’Sullivan have ignored the independent advice of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, which recommended a mix of school based and State assessment, and have instead ploughed ahead with their own divisive measures.
“I believe it was a mistake for the Minister to begin the roll out of the controversial Junior Cycle reforms this September without all party agreement. The Minister must begin a process of real engagement with teachers in order to deliver the best possible education to second level students. If Minister O’Sullivan continues with her current approach to the reform process, it will be marred by continued industrial unrest”.