Thursday 18 January 2018

New Junior Cycle book delayed amid teacher fears

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has spearheaded the Junior Cert reform plans. Photo: Tom Burke
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has spearheaded the Junior Cert reform plans. Photo: Tom Burke

Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor

A LEADING educational publisher is delaying the release of a new book for Junior Cycle English amid concerns about how well teachers are prepared for the changes ahead.

Gill & MacMillan planned to have its first title in a new series for Junior Cycle English ready for the autumn, but has decided to delay publication because "a number of issues regarding the implementation of the new framework for Junior Cycle and the English specification remain unresolved".

English is the first subject to undergo revision as part of a major overhaul of the Junior Certificate, and a new syllabus in the subject will be rolled out for first years in September.

A more interactive way of learning will involve a switch from the traditional teacher-led "chalk and talk" approach and the reliance on written exams.

Anthony Murray of Gill & MacMillan said the decision to delay the new book was taken following discussions with teachers in staff rooms around the country in recent weeks.

He told the Irish Independent that teachers were not entirely sure what they would be engaging with, and he had met a small number who had missed training, so Gill & MacMillan was not fully clear on what would be needed.

Mr Murray said that when teachers started to engage with the course and did more training, they would have a better idea of their needs.

"This is a significant investment and we want to get it right," he said.

The Junior Cert reform plans sparked a major dispute between the two second-level teacher unions and Education Minster Ruairi Quinn, although teachers will co-operate with the new English programme.


However, unions are opposed to ongoing assessment by teachers of their own students in place of the traditional state exams.

Among the other concerns expressed by teachers is inadequate training and a lack of capacity in schools to embrace the level of change required.

Teachers of English have received one day of training in advance of the implementation of the new course. There is now a union ban on any further training linked to the reforms.

In a letter to schools, Mr Murray wrote: "Gill & MacMillan feels that rushing to the market at this time would not allow us to publish a package that would best meet the needs of teachers and students facing into the new Junior Cycle.

"We have therefore decided to delay publication of 'Catch the Wave', the first title in our series for the new Junior Cycle English, until March 2015."

Irish Independent

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