Don't play politics with Junior Cert, says minister
Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan has warned the Opposition not to play politics with the Junior Cert, as the dispute with teachers forces almost 350,000 students out of school tomorrow.
Every second-level school in the country - almost 730 - will close as 27,000 teachers strike in opposition to plans for them to grade their own students for 40pc of marks in a new-style Junior Cert.
It is the second one-day stoppage in two months and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) have warned of at least one more.
The unions argue that the introduction of any assessment by a student's own teacher would compromise standards, and public trust in the exam.
The disruption in second-level schools comes as leaving and junior certificate candidates face the final run-in to the State exams.
In the Dail last night, the minister rounded on Opposition politicians who previously supported the changes and who are now "shouting stop" to the reform process "in pursuit of political advantage".
Ms O'Sullivan was speaking to a Sinn Fein Private Members Motion seeking a postponement of the reforms until all outstanding issues are resolved with teachers.
The minister recalled that, in December 2012, when the Dail debated a motion on Junior Cycle reform, it was supported by all sides.
She quoted Sinn Fein education spokesperson Jonathan O'Brien as stating at the time, "We will see the benefits of these proposals in the long term. We are talking about improving an aspect of post-primary education and making courses more suitable for students rather than gearing them towards one examination".
She also recalled the support offer by Fianna Fail education spokesperson Charlie McConalogue.
The minster said that "reform of our politics, and reform of pour society are clarion calls of both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein and the rebooters and freebooters on that side of the house.
And yet it strikes me when it comes to implementing any actual reform their response is to shout 'stop'."