Monday 27 January 2020

Junior Cert assessments threatened by union's directive over meetings


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Katherine Donnelly and Anne-Marie Walsh

Assessments for Junior Cert students in subjects including English, science, art, business, Irish and foreign languages are facing chaos.

It comes as teachers' union the ASTI issues a strict directive on the timing of key in-school meetings linked to reforms of the Junior Cert.

The meetings, known as SLARs, are where teachers share and discuss samples of their students' work from recently introduced classroom-based assessments and achieve consistency in grading.

The directive, issued yesterday, gives clear instructions about when the union's members can and cannot attend a meeting and is expected to cause major disruption to the assessment process.

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With the ASTI directive effectively limiting two-hour meetings to within the school day, which would force the mass cancellation of classes, school leaders are likely to opt instead to postpone SLARs and hope the matter will be resolved.

The phasing in of junior cycle changes has kept a lid on the long-simmering row.

But with pupils now undergoing assessments in most subjects, it has come to a head.

Teachers have to attend two SLARs a year and it would be a logistical nightmare for schools if there is little or no flexibility about meetings beyond the school day.

Meanwhile, further disruption is threatened at schools as substitute teachers and special needs assistants may be paid late.

The threat comes as school secretaries prepare to ramp up their industrial action over their pay and conditions.

They are planning their first full-day strike on Friday.

But they will also escalate a work to rule by refusing to process payments using an online system from Monday.

Irish Independent

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