November start for delayed junior cycle teacher training

Catch-up training on junior cycle reforms will not begin until Halloween for thousands of teachers who were prevented from taking part due to industrial action.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) last month suspended directives that had precluded its 18,000 members from co- operation with the reforms.

The Department of Education’s Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) professional development service is now planning the rollout of training for those who have fallen behind their non-ASTI counterparts.

Only around 1,700 of an estimated 4,500 teachers of English have been fully trained on the new junior cycle curriculum. The same proportion has received training on classroom-based assessments (CBAs) which students must undertake at the end of second year and again in third year, separate from their written Junior Certificate exam.

However, a full picture of the number of teachers involved and where they are based will not be clear until their schools register teachers of all subjects with the JCT service in September.

JCT director Pádraig Kirk said it will take several weeks to collect that information and devise training schedules, which he expects would begin in early November. “It will be after the mid-term by the time we get all the registration done and recruit people to deliver the training,” he said.

The plan is to deliver separate training for teachers who work at ASTI-staffed schools, who will be offered the relevant continuous professional development (CPD) at regional education centres or other venues.

“We should have met every teacher by the time CBAs need to be done at the end of the year by second-year students,” Mr Kirk said.

In June 2018, students will also be examined in the Junior Certificate on the new curricula for business and science, the subjects which follow English in the phased reform introduction.

The additional training requirements for ASTI members will mean the JCT service must recruit more teachers to deliver the CPD.

Plans were already in place to begin training members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) from September on subjects undergoing reform for students starting first year in 2018. That has seen numbers rise by 22 to 66 full-time personnel, but the figure should reach around 90 by October.

The ASTI dispute over aspects of the reforms meant students of its members at more than half the country’s 730 second-level schools did not undergo all aspects of the changed assessment in English this year.

Although they were able to compete for full marks in the final written exam this month in Junior Certificate English, their teachers did not mark them in a CBA.

The performance of students taught by members of the TUI will be included in their Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement in the autumn.



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