Life Learning

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Teachers to get no extra pay during Junior Cert overhaul

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn with student Aliza Alias (12) from Portmarnock Community
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn with student Aliza Alias (12) from Portmarnock Community School

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

SECONDARY school teachers will not get any extra pay for doing more work in the radical overhaul of the Junior Certificate.

The workload of teachers is expected to increase because they will now have to assess the exams and projects of their own students. The traditional Junior Cert exam at the end of third year will be abolished. But the Irish Independent understands that Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has no plans to give any extra pay or allowances to teachers.

The changes are due to be rolled out for new secondary school pupils in September 2014 -- and will cost an extra €10m per year. There was a hostile response yesterday from the main teaching unions, who complained they were operating in an "information vacuum" because they had not been consulted about the changes.

Mr Quinn rejected their criticisms that he was undermining the integrity of the Junior Cert by changing it from a state-run exam into a school-based assessment.

He said the ability for schools to set up their own short courses would "liberate the classroom for a lot of teachers".

"We are following best practice in New Zealand, Finland and Scotland. They don't have a high stakes exam yet they have very good outcomes," he said.

There will be a national database of school performance -- giving Mr Quinn's department the ability to see which schools are falling below the national average.

And there will be no more honours or pass subjects -- except for Irish, English and Maths.

This is because the current system is seen as encouraging students to stick with pass subjects even if they improve year-by-year.

It is understood Mr Quinn will not be making similar radical changes to the Leaving Certificate -- because it is seen as the hugely important gateway to third level which has to be state-run to retain its credibility.

New short courses under the system -- such as Chinese -- could be delivered online to students in small secondary schools under the supervision of a teacher.

But the Teachers Union of Ireland general Secretary John MacGabhann warned that teachers would need to get payments if the new system imposed extra bureaucracy or new duties on them.

"Clearly, there is a serious concern about increased workload for teachers as a result of these proposed changes," he said.

The Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) said it had not considered the issue of extra payments.

But its general secretary Pat King expressed opposition to teachers having to award grades to their own students instead of it being done by outside examiners. "It would be grossly naive to presume that a certificate awarded by a school would hold the same status as one awarded by the State," he said.

Irish Independent

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