Friday 6 December 2019

Quinn: No reprieve for traditional Junior Cert exam despite industrial action

Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn
Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn

Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said there was no going back on the decision to abolish the traditional Junior Cert exam.

He was speaking as teacher unions started industrial action in protest at the move to replace the State exam with a school-based award, known as the JCSA.

From today,  unions are not co-operating with  activities linked with  change, although training of  teachers for English – the first subject to be rolled out under the new regime- has completed.

Teachers say  the change  will put them under pressure from parents to awarded favourable grades and that the loss of an independently-marked State exam will be bad for education.

Mr Quinn said today that he understood teachers’ “very real” concerns about assessment but he believed that “we can move a  point where we can address those issues.

He added: “The way in which assessment is done is certainly  open for discussion  but we are not going to maintain State exam”.

The minister said one of the problems with the current system with its focus on once-off, terminal exams,  was that, since St Patrick’s  Day , Junior Cert students “have stopped learning”.

What they were doing was “remembering and revising and preparing for questions that  are anticipated to came up”.

Changes are due to be phased in over an eight year period, starting with English  for first years in September.

While teachers say they won’t assess student of English when the tiem come sin 2016, they will adopt the new syllabus in September.

However, the industrial action will impact on the development of new “short courses” , sich as computer coding, that schools have the option of introducing in September.

As well as halting any further preparatory work on the courses, the unions say that teachers will not deliver them in September, if the dispute is not resolved

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