Sunday 17 November 2019

English teachers would find assessing own students 'professionally repugnant'

INTO Delegates at the West County hotel in Ennis.
Photo: Frank Mc Grath
INTO Delegates at the West County hotel in Ennis. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Education Editor

TEACHERS of English would find it “professionally repugnant” to assess their own students in an oral exam as part of the Junior Certificate reforms, union leaders said today.

An oral communication project  – such as a Powerpoint-style presentation by a student on a topic of choice – is one of two school-based assessments being proposed for English in the revamped curriculum.

English is the first of the junior cycle subjects  to undergo revision  and, since last September, first years have been studying the new syllabus.

But a ban by the two second-level teacher unions has stopped any further co-operation with the changes, including teacher training to prepare them for assessing their own students,  due to start in the next school year.

Key to union resistance is the proposal that they taken on some responsibility for assessing their own students for a new-style Junior Cert.

The proposed school-based assessment would be  tandem with the traditional June exams, which would account for only 60pc of marks.

The 60-40 split was included in  recent  proposals from Dr Pauric Travers, former president of St Patrick’s teacher training college, Drumcondra, for settling the dispute, which the unions have rejected.

The presidents of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) - Philp Irwin - and the Teachers of Ireland (TUI) - Gerry Quinn - reaffirmed their opposition to co-operating with junior cycle reforms,  in a prepared joint statement read at both their conferences today.

In today’s  statement, the union presidents said that  Dr Travers’ proposals included an unacceptable precondition  to accept major flaws  and to suspend their directives banning further co-operation with the reforms.

They said for teachers of English, this would involve training to prepare for school-based assessment if an oral communication project which was professionally repugnant of them.

Despite the unions’ ban, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has announced that training for English teachers is resuming and invitations have gone out to individual teachers to attend sessions from next week.

TUI president Gerry Quinn said they believed that very few, if any teachers, would attend the  training, which will be picketed by the unions. Unions are also planning another lunchtime protest outside schools this month.

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