Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD says the Government is attempting to use students Junior Certificate examinations as a bargaining chip in their dispute with the ASTI.

Deputy Byrne made the comments after the Department of Education confirmed that students affected by the dispute will automatically lose 10 per cent of their marks if their teachers do not use the new assessment system.

“Minister Bruton has been slow to deal with the unrest surrounding the Junior Cert. Many parents are alarmed as they have only realised in recent days that students studying English are going to be docked 10 per cent simply for being in an ASTI staffed school. If the dispute continues then first year students in Science and Business Studies face the prospect of a 10 per cent reduction when they sit their Junior Cert exams in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

“This 10 per cent could be the difference between a pass and a fail for some students. It’s simply unacceptable that some students will be placed at a significant disadvantage due to something which is completely outside of their control. There is a risk that this dispute could bring the whole State Examinations into disrepute.

“There is an onus on both Minister Bruton and the ASTI to resolve this dispute. The current situation cannot be allowed to continue. The best interests of students needs to be kept in mind. Students doing their State exams should not be used as a bargaining chip in this dispute.

“Discussions between the Department and the ASTI are currently being facilitated by Ms Anna Perry from the Teachers’ Conciliation Council. This is a welcome development but we need to see a sense of urgency when it comes to resolving this dispute.

“A more mature approach is needed. Any prospect of students losing marks as a result of this dispute should be taken off the table. The Department will have to devise a new method of assessment for students in affected schools if this dispute is not resolved soon,” concluded Deputy Byrne.