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Junior Cert to be axed in huge shake-up

ANY student currently in fifth class or below in primary school will face standardised tests in numeracy and English reading by the time they reach second year of secondary school.

Students will not face external examiners until their Leaving Certificate. They will also take standardised tests in science from 2016.

And the new setup will include traditional subjects alongside those focused on digital media, sustainable energy and Mandarin.

Under the measures, there will also be a cap on the number of subjects students can take for the new exam.

It is expected that a massive and costly teacher-training programme will be needed to introduce the new system to schools.

More than 59,000 students received their Junior Cert results last month with 19 pupils receiving 12 A grades and 108 getting 11 A grades.

Emer Smyth from the ESRI welcomed the move away from the focus on one exam to a broader education experience.

"At the moment students would see the Junior Cert as a dry run for the Leaving Cert but that is not the best way for them to see their learning," she said.


"Practising an exam is not necessarily the best basis for providing young people with the skills and competency that is needed for adult life.

"We have to remember that while everything is focused on the Junior Cert exam, teachers are assessing their students all the time. "They are assessing course work, their exams on an ongoing basis but it just not as visible."

The issue of a change to the system was first mooted earlier this year, but these new proposals are expected to be even more radical than first anticipated.

A representative for the ASTI told the Herald this morning that it has always been in favour of reform of the Junior Cert, but this was a "recipe for confusion and uncertainty."

"Our reaction is profound surprise given that today's proposals seem to sideline key proposals presented to the Minister by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment," a spokesperson said.

"The manner in which this is being announced is a recipe for confusion and uncertainty. The current examination model offers students a transparent, credible and fair certificate process."