Thursday 22 August 2019

'Review junior cycle before Leaving Cert is changed'

Education Minister Joe McHugh. Photo: Frank McGrath
Education Minister Joe McHugh. Photo: Frank McGrath
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

A second-level teachers union leader said the junior cycle reforms must be properly evaluated before any changes are made to the Leaving Cert.

Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) president Seamus Lahart said while a senior cycle review was under way there was no evidence of the positive and negative consequences of the radical overhaul of the Junior Cert.

Speaking directly to Education Minister Joe McHugh during an address at the TUI conference, Mr Lahart said it was a matter of concern to his union's members.

He said they had been promised a study of the effectiveness and outcomes of the new junior cycle approach and programme content, but it had not happened.

"The success of the new programmes has not been assessed, and without the proper evaluation, we may be in danger of repeating the bad and failing to recognise the good."

He said it was not inevitable that all change was good and he called for the study to be carried out immediately.

Mr Lahart said TUI members would not facilitate change for the sake of it and "as long-serving educationalists, we will not condone a radical reform which has detrimental effects".

Noting that TUI members had played a crucial role in the development of the methodology for implementing the revised junior cycle programme, Mr Lahart warned that if the union was not fully consulted regarding the senior cycle review, then implementation of any revised programmes will not happen.

Mr Lahart also set out some "red line issues" which he said must underpin the revision process.

He said the first of the non-negotiables was that State certified examinations must remain.

The second thing that it would be insisting on was that teachers would not correct their own students' exams for a State certificate.

The third red-line issue, he said, was that teachers would not be landed with additional workloads and bureaucracy "behind the smokescreen of reform".

He called on Mr McHugh to "work with us - please do not work against us".

Mr Lahart's comments echo the views expressed by the other second-level union, the ASTI.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) is overseeing the review of senior cycle, as a follow on to the reforms at junior cycle.

In a change from the traditional consultation process, in which teacher union representatives played a central role, the NCCA is taking on board a much broader range of views, including students and their parents, about what sort of changes are required,

The review will lead to the formulation of advice for the Education Minister.

Irish Independent

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