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Postpone Junior Cycle reform until outstanding issues resolved – O’ Brien

20 January, 2015 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Jonathan O’ Brien has called for the Minister of Education to postpone the implementation of the Junior Cycle, as the concerns of teachers have not been addressed. 

Deputy O’ Brien was speaking in the Dáil tonight as Sinn Féin Private Members Motion called on Minister Jan O’ Sullivan to postpone reforms to the Junior Cycle until outstanding issues were resolved.

Deputy O’ Brien said:

“We share many of the concerns around the proposed reforms as the TUI and ASTI. While we are not opposed to short courses, we have major concerns around how they will be delivered. The range of short courses that a school could develop and deliver will be completely contingent on the level of resources that are available to a school and standards may vary.

“The teacher unions have major and valid concerns around the assessment issue. Even if there was agreement on the issue, teachers would not be given even near the level of training required to implement it. It is also highly inappropriate that the teachers’ role in the Irish context will be changed from advocate to judge of their own pupils.

“It is our view that it is completely unfair to expect teachers to deliver changes when they do not have the resources to do so. Teachers need to be supported with good teaching resources, including on-going professional development and whole in-schools services. English teachers are expected to deliver the new course after one-day of in-service. This is not right.

“Education policy should not be based on cherry-picking what is the cheapest option for a Department, or policy borrowing for the sake of financial expedience – our students are owed more than that.

“Sinn Féin is not against change, we are in favour of what is best for students. But we cannot support changes to a system that lump more work on already over-burdened teachers in schools where the goal is more cutting departmental expenditure than enhancing pupil education. Classroom teachers who understand what does and does not work in the classroom must have their voices heard.”

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