Junior cycle education staff hired before union vote

Extra staff to design and deliver teacher training for the revised junior cycle are being recruited before unions vote on whether to adopt the changes.

The Department of Education’s Junior Cycle for Teachers service has advertised for a teacher to work full time as leader of the team developing continuous professional development for business studies. It is also seeking part-time associates to help schools plan implem-entation of new assessment methods and other reforms.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (Asti) and Teachers’ Union of Ireland remain on industrial action that includes a ban on members attending continuous professional development on the junior cycle changes.

Some 27,000 members of both unions will vote in the coming weeks on whether to accept the proposals. A vote in favour, recommended by TUI’s executive to its 10,000 second-level members, would bring an end to the dispute running since the junior cycle plans were published in October 2012.

Since April 2014, all continuous professional development organised by Junior Cycle for Teachers has been boycotted due to the industrial action, but a core team has remained working on training programmes to be rolled out if the unions sign up to the junior cycle plans.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan yesterday published the revised junior cycle framework document, integrating various changes her officials have negotiated with unions to the original plans announced three years ago by Ruairi Quinn.

It brings together, for the first time, the entire package of proposals, including finalised assessment proposals that would see the externally-assessed Junior Certificate retained, but teachers agreeing to mark their own students in classroom-based assessments in second and third years, all combining towards a Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement for all students.

Ms O’Sullivan said it would give parents and students a more rounded, balanced, and enriched picture of students’ progress and achievements in all areas of learning in the junior cycle.

“Our students will be at the centre of the learning process and will engage with a modernised curriculum across all subjects,” he said. “They will experience new ways of learning and a broader range of skills, while innovative classroom-based assessment will support that learning.”

Welcoming both unions’ decisions at the weekend to ballot members, Ms O’Sullivan said teachers would have the time and resources needed to implement the new junior cycle successfully.

The outcomes of both ballots should be known in about three weeks, with TUI president Gerry Quinn saying the proposals satisfied teachers’ main concerns about the integrity of the Junior Certificate. The Asti central executive council did not recommend acceptance.

Its president, Máire G Ní Chiarba, described the junior cycle campaign as a demonstration of the power of a united and persistent teaching profession standing up for education.

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