Lunchtime protests staged
WEXFORD secondary school teachers took part in lunchtime demonstrations outside their school gates last Tuesday in protest at Minister Ruari Quinn's plans to make radical changes to the junior cycle, including the abolition of the traditional Junior Certificate.
Wexford secondary school teachers took part in lunchtime demonstrations outside their school gates last Tuesday in protest at Minister Ruari Quinn's plans to make radical changes to the junior cycle, including the abolition of the traditional Junior Certificate.
The Wexford protests took place at all 22 secondary schools across the county as part of a national campaign against the reforms, with teachers saying there has been little or no consultation with them.
The protests were organised by ASTI and the TUI. Both unions are balloting members for strike action and results will be announced on March 26.
The ASTI says Minister Quinn did not consult teachers on the changes which the Department of Education intends bringing into force from September.
Fintan Kavanagh, the ASTI's school steward at the Loreto in Wexford, said the whole idea of the protests was to bring the unions' positions into the public eye.
'We don't think the voices of teachers are being listened to by the government,' he said.
'There is a level of anger among teachers and there is a level of uncertainty about what is going to happen because there has been a lack of consultation.'
Mr. Kavanagh said the other main issues of contention were assessment of the new exams and the amount of resources being put into the changes.
Despite the protests and the ballot for industrial action the government is pressing ahead with major changes in teaching and learning, with technology taking a central role and a greater emphasis on students thinking for themselves rather than engaging in rote learning.
Key to the reform is the abolition of the traditional Junior Certificate exams and continuous assessment of students by their own teachers, for a new Junior Cycle Student Award (JCSA), issued by schools.
The process of change is due to start with introduction of a new English syllabus for first years in September, while other changes will be phased in over a number of years.