Tuesday 17 October 2017

New Junior Cert system may employ external examiners

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn
Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

EXTERNAL moderators could be used to ensure student work is accurately and fairly assessed as part of a radical reform of the Junior Cert Cycle.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has revealed that outside assistance may be employed to ensure "quality assurance" in schools.

This would be similar to the system in some third-level institutions, he said.

The new system – with more marks for coursework and students to be assessed by their own teachers – is being introduced on a phased basis.

"I'm prepared to discuss all of that. Third-level colleges have external examiners who come in and do quality assurance.

"There are multiple models around the world that we can look at.

"This is what happens in third level in different types of institutions where you have continuous learning. We're open to all of that," he said.

However, both the TUI and ASTI fear the system of teachers assessing their own pupils for a new school-based Junior Cycle Student Award (JCSA) will undermine education standards.

They are also concerned it may put teachers under undue pressure from parents.

They say recent cutbacks have left schools without the resources to take on change on the scale envisaged.

However, Mr Quinn said the position of the unions would only serve to create "difficulties and pressures" for pupils.

He suggested teachers were "nervous of change".

"I'm confronted with two unions who simply said 'no we're not doing it'. They've said it for the last 25 years – and it was a principle that they would not be judges of their own students.

"We want to change the education standards that are there at present. That's what this thing is all about."

He said the need for far-reaching reforms had never been greater, as a significant number of pupils in second year became "disengaged" from the learning process and fell into the "departure lounge" of education.

The current model is "warping the learning experience of students" and causes "significant stress on students", he added.

Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education, Mr Quinn said there should be a shift in teaching that provided pupils with "structured feedback" on their learning.

Irish Independent

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