Sunday 23 July 2017

Schools to close for 3 days for JC reform

Outgoing Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan. Photo: Tom Burke
Outgoing Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan. Photo: Tom Burke
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Second-level schools will be allowed to close for three days in the next school year to allow teachers and principals prepare together for the new-style Junior Certificate.

Approval for the closures is given in a Department of Education circular setting out detailed arrangements for the implementation of the long-awaited changes.

Given the scale of the change involved, it was decided that it was better to allow schools to close for three days, rather than have ongoing, significant disruption. Teachers will also get additional time for training and professional development.

Publication of the circular is one of the final acts of outgoing Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan, who made changes to junior cycle a priority.

The reform plan moves up a notch in September, when schools will be able to offer new approaches to teaching science and business and short courses, such as coding, along with the English syllabus introduced in 2014.

The department is pressing ahead despite ongoing opposition from one second-level teachers' union, the Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (ASTI). The Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) has signed up for the reforms.

Opposition

If the ASTI does not come on board, the closures would not apply in up to two-thirds of the country's schools where it is the only union representing teachers, or where it has a significant number of members.

Union opposition to the changes focussed on plans for teachers to assess their own students for State certification and the level of resources that would be provided to schools to implement them.

A significant dilution of the assessment proposals was a factor in TUI acceptance. It remains to be seen whether the resources, in terms of time, as offered in the circular, will prompt a re-think within the ASTI.

Irish Independent

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