'Ruairi Quinn wants to see himself as the man who changed the system'
IT'S more about his name than the students. That's according to 27,000 protesting teachers who believe that Education Minister Ruairi Quinn will ruin relationships between teachers and their parents.
One union official claimed that Mr Quinn was "trying to make a name for himself" with the shake-up of the Junior Cert.
Sean Carr, a learning resources and PE teacher at 850-pupil St Eunan's College in Letterkenny, was joined on the picket line by several colleagues, including Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan (also PE) and Donegal GAA All Star Colm McFadden (maths).
They were joined by their colleagues in a protest at more changes being introduced in schools.
"Ruairi Quinn wants to see himself as the man who changed the system and to make a name for himself," said Mr Carr, a shop steward.
"The fact is this is being rushed through. We're all for change and teachers don't mind change as long as it makes sense and we are given the time to implement them.
"He (Quinn) hasn't consulted us, isn't providing the support we need and has ignored us.
"This, of course, is all happening at a time when our nearest neighbours in Britain are moving towards scrapping the assessment-led GCSEs and bringing back O Levels."
Just across the Co Donegal town, teachers on Ireland's newest school campus have similar fears. The Irish-language-medium Colaiste Ailigh's new €7m school building opened three months ago after 10 years of portacabins.
"Taking away independent assessment will destroy the relationships between teachers and parents," said Celine Gallagher, an Irish-speaking French native who teaches English and French to some of the school's 220 pupils.
"We welcome change but this system will not be right for our children and they are the people who count."
Her colleague, Seosamh Mac Ceallabbhui, who teaches Junior Cert maths, said: "Taking away independent assessment is a major problem. Parents unhappy with marks will be coming to knock on our doors and that will change the dynamic between all the stakeholders. It will cause friction."
The defiant mood of teachers was reflected at the other end of the country, in Cork.
"This is all about getting the minister and the Department of Education to listen to our concerns," one teacher protesting in Bishopstown said.
"All we are pleading for is some consultation and an assurance that our concerns will be acted upon," she added.
Protests were mounted throughout Cork city and county as the ASTI and TUI united to voice their fears about the proposals.
Teacher unions have warned that further protests will be mounted if their concerns are not taken into account.