Sunday 26 January 2020

Lack of funds 'will hinder Junior Cert revamp'

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

THERE is a "genuine fear" in schools around plans for teachers to take over the assessment of students in the new-style Junior Cert, second-level principals claim.

The principals favour the reform but say there is "significant unease and confusion" – and more resources are needed to ensure it succeeds.

Radical changes, being phased in from next year, will see schools issuing certificates to students, based on teachers' assessments, in place of the traditional Junior Cert.

Teachers are worried that they will come under undue pressure from parents and that it could cause unfavourable and, perhaps, unfair comparisons if there is a wide variation in results between individual teachers or schools.

National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) president Kay O'Brien said there were concerns that the status of different school assessments and certification may not carry equal weight.

"Significant unease has arisen due to the confusion generated by the decision to abolish the Junior Certificate and the lack of clarity around new modes of assessment", she said.

Ms O'Brien told the NAPD annual conference that many teachers and school leaders had legitimate concerns regarding the integrity and transparency of the proposed new assessment methodologies.

She said the reform plan was "much needed and long-overdue after years of witnessing the detachment and disengagement of many young people from the curriculum in schools". There was an urgent need for a modern approach to teaching and learning and a more focused approach to developing skills and aptitudes.

So, she said it was unfortunate that assessment concerns had taken precedence over vision and philosophy.

At the root of the problem, according to the NAPD, is a lack of funding to ensure that the change happens properly.

Ms O'Brien said the €4.8m for the training of teachers as "wholly inadequate".

Irish Independent

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