Teachers defy unions by assessing own exam pupils
Published 26/09/2011 | 05:00
SOME teachers are assessing their own pupils in defiance of their unions.
The Junior Certificate oral Irish exam is a case in point.
In what has turned into a farcical situation, pupils in some schools do the oral Irish, while others don't.
Crucially, those doing the Irish oral could be gaining an advantage because of the high marks that are available for it.
The exam is optional, but a student can earn up to 40pc of the marks for the subject, for the 15-minute interview involved.
The oral exam is not conducted in the usual way, by an examiner paid for by the State Examinations Commission (SEC).
Teachers are either assessing their own pupils, or the school is paying a teacher from another school, or a retired teacher to do the work.
This is against the instructions of the teacher unions, the ASTI and the TUI.
This year, 4,276 pupils in 94 schools, or one in eight of all second-level schools, did the oral Irish exam
According to the SEC, it happened in 43 voluntary secondary schools, where the ASTI represents teachers, in 41 VEC schools, where the TUI represents teachers and in 10 community and comprehensive schools, which may have teachers who are members of both unions.
The SEC has refused to identify the schools involved, or to give an indication of the grades achieved in that group of schools when compared with all schools.
In 2007, former education minister Mary Hanafin decided to double the proportion of marks available for oral Irish to boost student interest.
However, the SEC told schools that they would have to organise the assessment themselves.
This contrasts with the situation for Leaving Cert languages where the SEC pays teachers to travel to other schools to conduct the oral exam.
Despite the union resistance, there has been a significant increase in numbers taking the oral component.
The new marking scheme applied for the first time in Junior Cert 2010.
No one is saying officially who is doing the work, but according to principals it is a combination of teachers assessing their own pupils, or teachers from another class or school, or retired teachers doing it.
The ASTI says it does not support such ad hoc arrangements, but is aware of them.