Thursday 14 December 2017

Junior Cert to be renamed Junior Cycle Student Award

The Junior Cert is to be renamed the Junior Cycle Student Award
The Junior Cert is to be renamed the Junior Cycle Student Award

THE reformed Junior Certificate will be called the JCSA, or Junior Cycle Student Award.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn announced the new name as his officials prepare for talks with teacher unions and school managers on the implementation of change.

The overhaul of the Junior Cert starts next September, when a new English syllabus is introduced for first years.

The focus of the change at junior cycle will be on encouraging students to learn through thinking rather than relying on “learning off by heart”.

There will be gradual switch from the traditional June exams at the end of three years study, to continuous assessment of students by their own teachers..

After English, new syllabi will be rolled out for other subjects over the next few years, with an emphasis on greater use of digital technology in teaching, learning and assessment.

For instance, English students will be doing Powerpoint-style presentations on a given topic as part of their assessment.

However, teacher unions and school managers are concerned about the capacity of schools to take on the level of change envisaged.

Recent cutbacks have stripped schools of teachers while some teachers are nervous about assessing and grading their own students.

The working group meeting for the first time in the Department of Education on Friday will discuss the range of concerns expressed.

Mr Quinn said today that he acknowledged that many teachers had legitimate concerns about how the changes would  be introduced in schools. 

He said the working group would be a forum where the concerns of the partners could be heard and addressed over the next number of months and years.

The group is made up of representatives from the teacher unions, the ASTI and TUI, management bodies, parents, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the Department of Education and Skills.

He said while reform of the junior cycle was urgently required, it was being phased in over several years from September.

The minister promised:  “ I am determined that the new JCSA will be introduced at a rate which will allow our schools, students and teachers the time to embed these changes”.

By Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor

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