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Adams criticises Government hardline stance on Junior Cycle Assessment

21 January, 2015 - by Gerry Adams TD


Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his ‘disappointment at the intransigence of the Minister for Education and the government in insisting that teachers assess 40% of their students Junior Certificate’.

The Sinn Féin leader raised the issue this morning during Leaders Questions in the Dáil, 24 hours before a second state wide strike by teachers.

Speaking after the debate in which the Taoiseach refused to review the government’s stance and insisted that the Minister’s proposal must be implemented by the Teachers, Gerry Adams said: ‘The Government’s hardline stance is obstructing a resolution. The government should step back from its current position. It cannot wash its hands for this crisis. Nor is it good enough to blame the unions or to say that neither students nor parents want this strike. The closure of more than 730 secondary schools should not be taken lightly and the government has the principal responsibility for finding a resolution.’

Gerry Adams said:

“In his response to my question in the Dáil the Taoiseach acknowledged that the teachers are professionals. And yet he refuses to listen to their genuine concerns on this issue and the government has dug in on demanding that the teaching unions sign up for teachers assessing 40% of their own students Junior Cycle for certification purposes.

“The government is effectively imposing a veto over the negotiations. This is not the way to resolve this very important issue.

“The teachers don’t want to strike. They know that the strike, the second since last December, will cause significant disruption for almost 30,000 teachers; for over 330,000 students, and for their families.

“Teachers have reiterated time after time their support for a first class Junior Certificate for all students, including a move away from a reliance on final written examinations and the promotion of different types of assessment, including more practical, project and portfolio work.

“No one denies the need for reform. The teachers and Sinn Féin agree with the Minister’s strategy of moving away from rote learning in schools but her intransigence on the issue of assessment has been very unhelpful and made the strike inevitable.

“Sinn Féin has broadly speaking supported the progressive proposals being brought forward by government. If implemented and resourced properly the reform of the junior cycle can greatly enhance the school curriculum and the learning experience of students.

“However, recent talks between the Minister and the Unions have failed to break the deadlock.

“The Minister talks about the need for listening to stakeholders and has warned against any one party having a veto on progress and change. But then she digs in, refuses to listen to the genuine concerns of teachers and vetoes agreement by demanding that teachers assess 40% of their students work.

“In Sinn Féin’s view the assessment of student’s exam work should be impartial, should be external, should be fair and should be standardised. The Minister has conceded that point by accepting that teachers don’t have to assess 60% of their students work. But she is insisting that they assess 40% of students work.

“The Government’s hardline stance is obstructing a resolution. The government should step back from its current position. It cannot wash its hands for this crisis. Nor is it good enough to blame the unions or to say that neither students nor parents want this strike. The closure of more than 730 secondary schools should not be taken lightly and the government has the principal responsibility for finding a resolution.

“An agreement must be found. I would urge the Minister to return to the negotiating table, today, this evening, postpone the further implementation of the Junior Cycle reform and seek a reasonable agreed resolution of this important issue.”

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