Saturday 22 November 2014

O'Sullivan meets unions on Junior Cert changes

Published 03/09/2014 | 02:30

Pictured in April, Sally Maguire, Outgoing President of the ASTI, with a petition signed by 9921 teachers against the proposed new Junior Cert. Picture: Patrick Browne
Pictured in April, Sally Maguire, Outgoing President of the ASTI, with a petition signed by 9921 teachers against the proposed new Junior Cert. Picture: Patrick Browne

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan will meet teacher unions for the first time today to discuss changes to the Junior Cert, as preparations are made to ballot secondary teachers on possible strike action in the row over the reform plans.

The minister wants to hear first hand the concerns of the teacher unions ahead of further efforts between her officials and union leaders to resolve the dispute.

Members of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) will vote this month on an escalation of action in opposition to moves that would require teachers to assess their own students, in place of the traditional Junior Cert exam.

The first phase of change started happening in schools this week, with the new syllabus for English, the first subject to undergo revision under the reforms, which will be rolled out over eight years.

Unions are co-operating with the new forms of teaching involved, but their current position is that they will got engage with in-school assessments which, in the case of English, are due to start in 2016.

They are refusing to co-operate with any further training linked to the change, or the rollout of short courses, such as Mandarin, which had been due to start this month.

A Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) ballot earlier this year on non-co-operation with certain changes covered the possibility of strike action, which was supported by members.

But an ASTI vote at the same time did not, so the ASTI will issue ballot papers on September 14-15 on possible strike action, with a result due by early October.

A working group set up to consider the matter reported in June and highlighted a number of issues, including a need for extra resources in schools to deliver the changes, teacher training and independent support to school-based assessment, such as sampling by the State Examinations Commission (SEC), in the interests of ensuring consistency in standards.

Irish Independent

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