Thursday 21 February 2019

Marathon talks on Junior Cert row continue

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Marathon talks to try resolve the dispute over Junior Cert reform are set to continue next week in a bid to avert further strike action.

Discussions went on all day yesterday between teacher unions and officials of the Department of Education.

The talks are being chaired by Dr Pauric Travers, former president of St Patrick's teacher training college, who, in his recent invitation to the sides to attend the talks, struck the most optimistic note yet in the long-running row over plans for teachers to grade their own students in a new-style Junior Cert.

Dr Travers said he believed that there were indications that the talks could be "more productive" than previous meetings.

Members of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) have already engaged in two one-day stoppages in opposition to taking on any responsibility for assessing their own students for the Junior Cert.

They say that having teachers assess their own students, even for 40pc of the marks as is being proposed, would compromise consistency in results and undermine standards.

Threat

The unions have threatened another day of action, but if the talks make progress that may be averted.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan is setting up a new Centre of School Leadership to support principals and deputy principals in their work.

One of the roles of the centre will be to put in place a postgraduate qualification in school leadership, drawing on best international practice and research in the professional development of school leaders, which will be open to those who are aspiring to school leadership roles.

It will also offer a mentoring programme for school leaders, starting later this year.

The minister will announce details of the new centre, in an address to the annual conference of the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) today.

Ms O'Sullivan will also confirm to the principals that pupil data being gathered in schools or the new Primary Online Database (POD) will be retained until the pupil turns 30, but will be subject to ongoing review by her department.

She says while some people were concerned that their data about being kept for a long period, others were uncomfortable with the idea of an official record of their school enrolment not being available to them.

Irish Independent

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