Secondary teachers say schools don’t have the capacity to take on changes to the senior cycle that are being discussed.
The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) says the workload associated with the shake-up in the junior cycle is just one of a wide range of new demands on teachers in recent years.
“Many teachers are overwhelmed by their workload. This situation is unsustainable and has to change,” said ASTI president Deirdre MacDonald.
The union says workload is among the issues that must be covered in a “rigorous” review of the new-style junior cycle prior to senior cycle curriculum change.
The ASTI call comes as the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) prepares to make recommendations on changes to senior cycle, following a review and consultation process.
As part of the review process, the NCCA is hosting a national consultation forum in Croke Park tomorrow to discuss the ideas emerging from the review.
The NCCA expects to presents its advisory report to its own council by the end of the year and submit it to the minister for education by early 2020 at the latest.
The ASTI call came on the back of research commissioned by the union, which stated that significant curriculum change was “not appropriate in the near future due to the lack of capacity in schools”.
The research, by Dr Brian Fleming, a former principal of Collinstown Park Community College, Clondalkin, Dublin, also cited uncertainty about the outcomes of the new junior cycle, “the deterioration in teachers’ working conditions”, and other factors as issues that must be addressed before any senior cycle change goes ahead.
Dr Fleming’s report, Making Education Policy Work, also warns against sidelining teachers in the policy-making process.
MacDonald said: “What we have learned from the Framework for Junior Cycle is that marginalising teachers in the policy-making process, while at the same time making them responsible for its successful implementation, is likely to result in significant problems.
“Teachers must be treated as key stakeholders at all stages of education policy development. Their concerns must be listened to and addressed. They are the ones with the professional experience to understand what issues, including implementation issues, may arise.”