Exam students in limbo after ASTI ballot result

More than 30,000 Junior Certificate students remain in limbo over whether they will lose 10% of marks in English.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) insists it will not give members who teach English a derogation from industrial action to enable students to complete all parts of the revised Junior Certificate in the subject.

It plans to maintain a ban on co-operation with junior cycle reform after this week’s ballot result in which members narrowly rejected settlement proposals on this issue and their pay dispute.

However, there was a chink of hope last night that an assessment task, already done by students of non-ASTI teachers, can be done by the remainder even if the union’s ban on co-operation remains in place.

The assessment is worth 10% of final marks for Junior Certificate and was done by TUI-taught English students in December, with the work to be submitted with the written exam in June for marking by the State Examinations Commission (SEC).

Schools were told before Christmas, when the ASTI had yet to vote on proposals to settle its dispute on junior cycle reform, that it can be done in the last week of April by the remaining 30,000-plus of this year’s 60,000 Junior Certificate students.

However, the task is supposed to be a written reflection by students on a classroom-based assessment (CBA), for which a continuing ASTI directive bans its members from marking their own classes.

The revised timeline issued before Christmas suggested the CBA could be done up to March 24. But Thursday’s ballot result — in which ASTI members voted 52.5% to 47.5% against settlement proposals — put paid to that possibility.

The SEC said last night it will send guidance to schools on completion of the assessment task.

“The SEC can assure parents and students that its guidance to schools will make clear that all their students will have an opportunity to undertake the assessment task, and in this way to complete all elements that are marked by SEC within the Junior Cycle final examination,” it said.

A spokesperson could not confirm when the guidance would issue or how it suggests the assessment task can be done if ASTI industrial action is continuing.

But it is expected to be based on an interpretation that, while ASTI members will not mark the CBA, they are required under the curriculum to have students complete the project work.

Although they might not mark this work, students would still be in a position to answer questions around it in the assessment task, which is not covered by the ASTI directive because it is being marked externally by the SEC.

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