Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Education & Skills Charlie McConalogue says Minister Ruairí Quinn’s continued refusal to listen to the concerns of teachers and many parents about the Junior Cert reform process is endangering its effective implementation.
Deputy McConalogue said: “Junior Cert reform is certainly needed and I and my Party strongly support the need for change and indeed initiated the process by tasking an NCCA working group, involving all educational partners, to develop reform proposals.
“However, Minister Quinn’s approach to the reform of the Junior Cert has been autocratic and dictatorial; he has refused to listen to the expertise of teachers and is pressing ahead with measures that educators have expressed real concerns about.
“He is expecting teachers to implement reforms from this September, but has failed to listen to their concerns or to put a proper training programme in place,” commented Deputy McConalogue.
“One of their key concerns is the Minister’s plan to abolish the traditional Junior Cert exam and replace it with a system of teachers assessing their own students.
“My party believes that there must continue to be independent assessment of the exam to guarantee consistency of standards and assessment across all schools.
“However Minister Quinn has not only continued to ignore the advice of teachers, he’s also chosen to disregard recommendations from the NCCA working group, which sought a mix of school-based and State-based assessment.
“A recent survey by the ASTI revealed that two thirds of teachers want the reforms deferred by a year to give schools time to plan, but Minister Quinn told its conference this week that the changes would be coming in as planned this September.
“His approach of publishing timetables and proposals without consultation has led to teachers committing to industrial action and non cooperation with the reform process and has endangered very valuable and necessary educational reform.
“It is not too late for the Minister to realise that reform is best achieved in partnership not conflict and to engage meaningfully with the teaching partners to ensure that landmark reforms to our secondary education system are successfully delivered. A continuance of his autocratic approach is destined to impede the introduction of these important reforms and prevent effective implementation of a reformed junior cycle for students,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.