‘Enact junior cert reforms or students will suffer’

Eileen Salmon.

Students will suffer untold damage unless junior cycle reform proposals are put into action, says the head of a body representing almost 100 second-level schools.

Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools general secretary Eileen Salmon believes the Department of Education needs to take immediate steps to ensure the necessary resources are in place so schools can implement the changes. But, she said, the biggest frustration for school management has been the delays in rolling out changes because of industrial action by the two second-level teacher unions.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland and Teachers’ Union of Ireland continue to ban their 27,000 second-level members from taking part in any training or other activities related to the reform proposals. They decided last month not to accept final proposals from talks chairman Pauric Travers, saying agreement on how the changes are resourced must take place before they could put the measures to a ballot.

In a report to the ACCS annual conference today, Ms Salmon says union directives prohibiting participation in training and new learning programmes have been a backward step. The 95 schools ACCS represents are mostly dual-union workplaces, unlike most other schools where teachers are either members of ASTI or TUI.

“As the year goes on, we are no clearer when, or how, or if the problem around assessment for the Junior Cycle will be resolved.”

Ms Salmon said we are now at a crossroads in relation to junior cycle reform.

“We either engage with the Travers’ proposals and put the necessary safeguards and resources in place or we risk unrest and untold damage to students and the education system.

“ACCS urges that the first option be taken with immediate engagement between the department and the education partners to ensure that the resources necessary for implementation of the Travers’ proposals are made available,” she said.

All second-level management bodies, including ACCS, back last month’s Travers proposals which Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said she will implement despite union opposition. The plan brings an end to previous proposals that students be marked for State certification by their own teachers on two pieces of coursework in each subject, instead suggesting such the results of such testing issue from schools instead of the State Examinations Commission.

Read more of today’s news here

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