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Wednesday 13 December 2017

'Standards will fall' if Junior Cert dropped

SECONDARY teachers have warned that educational standards will fall if plans to drop the Junior Cert exam go ahead.

They have expressed strong opposition towards moves to replace the traditional June exams with teacher assessment of their own students.

Among their worries is that teachers would be open to accusations from parents such as, "you never liked my child".

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) general secretary Pat King said it was asking Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to "stop and let's think about this".

"You don't have the teachers with you, and if you don't have the teachers, it won't happen," Mr Quinn was warned.

Mr Quinn shocked the education world in October when he announced more far-reaching changes for the junior cycle than had been under discussion with teachers and school leaders.

This provoked an angry response within the ASTI, which embarked on a consultation process to give members an opportunity to express their views.

Announcing the findings, ASTI president Gerry Breslin said teachers believed that elements of the plan had the potential to improve learning outcomes for students.

These include the focus on activity based learning, a greater emphasis on understanding and application of knowledge, the introduction of short courses and more use of technology.

The nub of ASTI's concern is the proposal to eliminate the June exams and leave the assessment of students entirely to their own teachers, with a certificate issued by the school.

It represents a departure from an earlier proposal from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), for a mix of teacher assessment and traditional state exams.

Under the NCCA proposals, students would get 40pc of marks for school-based assessment by teachers and 60pc from the state exams.

ASTI assistant general secretary Moira Leydon said teachers had "deep-seated professional concerns" as to whether the minister's more radical plan would work and "if it won't work should we go along with it".

Irish Independent

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