Quinn 'willing to talk to teachers' on Junior Cert
EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn has offered an olive branch to teachers after a poll showing parents have major concerns about his Junior Cert reform plans.
Mr Quinn insisted that he shared the concerns but added that a new form of assessment needed to be hammered out.
He said he was willing to enter talks if teachers were prepared to engage "constructively" in discussions.
The minister adopted a conciliatory stance on his reforms after an Irish Independent poll showed parents were overwhelmingly siding with teachers against Junior Cert reforms.
A total of 60pc of those polled said teachers should not assess their own pupils in the Junior Cert through continuous assessment of school-based exams and projects.
The new system will be brought in on a phased basis from September.
"I share the parents' concern in that I want parents to have confidence in the system, but there is a better system to what we currently have," said Mr Quinn. He said every education stakeholder, including teachers, had expressed the need for change in the curriculum.
But he accepted that teachers' concerns centred on the method of assessment, and said he was open to talks on this.
"I'm open to talk to them about that if they will engage in a constructive dialogue," he said.
He said he had spoken to teachers at various conferences he had participated in, that he was happy to talk to them, and had urged them to specify "exactly what it is they want".
"They simply said they're against it but there is a need for some change in the method of assessment to ease the progress," he said.
He said young people who start first year in secondary school next September would sit an examination in English in June 2017 where 60pc of the marks would be set by the State Examination Commission.
The minister said this was the same as the current situation, and the paper would be marked by the state examination system as is the case presently.
He said there were three years until then, so he was open to talking to teachers about the remaining 40pc of marks that they were assessing.
"We're open to talking to them," he said. "I'd like them to sit down and discuss the detail of how that work can be done in first year and second year."
Mr Quinn was speaking at the launch of the Skills to Work website (www.skillstowork.ie) – a new online one-stop shop for jobseekers.
It enables them to use a touch-screen to find the best training, internship or job schemes available to them.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said 77,200 jobseekers had gained training and work experience on Springboard, Momentum, Skillnets, JobBridge and JobsPlus since 2011.