ASTI behaving like children while pupils talk sense

Education Minister Norma Foley


State exams are supposed to test your memory: their handling this year will have left many students with a memory they will never forget.

If the class of 2021 fails to meet its potential in this year’s Leaving certificate exams it will in no small part be because of weakness on the part of both Government and some teacher unions.

For almost a year the Government and unions have been committed to provide clarity for tens of thousands of anxious students and parents. Good teachers will see a student’s success as a reflection of their own.

What they will not do is remain indifferent when they know their input is urgently needed.That’s why the baffling behaviour of The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) in withdrawing from talks

at such a critical time upset so many.

Thankfully it has agreed to further engagement with Education Minister Norma Foley.

With masterful; restraint Higher Education Simon Harris said it “beyond unhelpful” anyone would walk away from the process.

“People need to get in a room and get this sorted and stay in a room until it’s sorted,” he added. Minister of State for Education, Niall Collins said he was shocked by ASTI’s decision. “ASTI haven’t been asked to give up their mid-term break, they haven’t been asked to reduce their Easter holidays, they haven’t been asked to push the Leaving Certificate out into July. What we’re trying to achieve is what the students have asked for, which is a choice and I think everyone has to pull together,” he said.

Earlier Asti’s general secretary Kieran Christie said plans being discussed were unacceptable on the basis that calculated grades would become a “dominant option” and the Leaving Cert exams would end up “filling in assessment gaps”.

What most people will see is “unacceptable” is that another year has almost elapsed, and no agreed contingency plan has been signed on to either get pupils back to school, or for holding the State exams.

Many may feel we have a national obsession with the Leaving

Certificate, disproportionate to its value.

But as EM Foster wrote, like it or not, until we have a better system in place there is

no escaping such defining moments.

“As long as learning is connected with earning, as long as certain jobs can only be reached through exams, so long must we take the examination system seriously. If another ladder to employment were contrived, much so-called education would disappear, and no one be a penny the stupider,” Foster said. The ultimate responsibility for getting schools open and exams held, rests with the minister and government.

So far in terms of offering clarity or certainty they have failed.

They say those who don’t know must learn from those who do.

So far the only people talking sense about the issue is the students to whom nobody seems to be paying attention.