Athlone Councillor Aengus O’Rourke said he is concerned about the Government’s approach to reform of the Junior Cert.  The Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has cited cost as a major factor for abolishing independent State assessment.

Councillor O’Rourke said: “In the Dáil this week when being questioned by Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue the Minister clearly indicated that cost was a basis for his decision to go against the advice he received, and remove the State entirely from junior cycle exams.

“This raises alarm bells about the real reason for abolishing all independent assessment at junior cert level.  It is crucial that Junior Cert reform is driven by improving outcomes for students, and not by cost.

“Fianna Fáil supports reform of the Junior Cert exam system but we believe the move to the Junior Cycle Student Award (JCSA) should be done with proper consultation and engagement with teachers.

“I am also hugely concerned that the impact the reform of the Junior Cert will have on the role of the State Examination Commission.  The SEC is based here in Athlone and the jobs at the organisation are quite important to the economy of the town.  As the JCSA is an entirely school based assessment, the State Examination Commission here in Athlone will have no role in independent assessment at Junior Cert level.   If this work is to be removed from the SEC, where does it leave the jobs based in Athlone?

“Given that the Minister has sought to roll-out his proposals for reform of the Junior Cert I would expect that the impact of this on the SEC would also be spelt out,” concluded Councillor O’Rourke.