Pupils faced with 'too much content, too many subjects'
SECONDARY students are confronted with "too much content, too many subjects", and are not getting enough time and space for genuine learning or reflection, according to school heads.
The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) said that Irish students were "over-schooled and under-educated".
They were not encouraged to work on their own initiative and their problem-solving capacity was being reduced year by year, it said, in a devastating analysis of the "failure" of the curriculum to meet the needs of all young people.
It claimed that the present system favoured those who could supplement the work of the school through grinds, coaching, etc. These students had 'cracked' the system because they could afford to pay for the extras such as grinds.
Outlining its views on a 2020 vision for education, the association said the 'sacred cow' of the Leaving Certificate needed to be addressed.
But there were too many vested interests, including teachers, who were resistant to change, especially the assessment of students by teachers, it said.
Emphasis should be put on competencies, rather than qualifications, the NAPD said. Different assessment models should be used including portfolios, 'reflective' journals, learning how to learn, demonstration of acquired skills etc.
The system should be structured and suited to the needs of the individual students, it said.
NAPD president Tim Geraghty told the association's annual conference in Galway that the Leaving did nothing for many students other than act as a measure of failure.
It was leading to a stultifying 'points race', said Mr Geraghty.
"It's a case of the third-level tail wagging the second-level dog," he told the 450 delegates at the annual conference.
In his presidential address Mr Geraghty also said that second schools had lost 40pc of their assistant principal posts as a result of the moratorium on filling vacant middle management positions. Some schools had suffered untenable losses.
The Government has agreed to a limited alleviation of the moratorium but he said there would still be a deterioration in the learning environment for academically able students.