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Minister must stop using promise of engagement on Junior Cycle reform as a political bargaining chip in ASTI dispute – O’Brien

26 November, 2013 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Speaking from the Dáil today, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD called on Minister Ruairi Quinn to engage with secondary school teachers without preconditions and work towards addressing their serious concerns surrounding Junior Cycle reform.
During today's Ministerial questions, he also stated that it was unacceptable that Minister Quinn is using the promise of engagement on the issue as political bargaining chip in his dispute with the ASTI.
Deputy O’Brien, who raised the matter under Ministerial Questions, said:
“Junior Cycle reform is being rolled-out in September of next year. The very people who are being tasked with implementing this important reform have raised a number of very real concerns with the Department of Education.
“Secondary school teachers have made clear that they have yet to receive the necessary training or resources to enable them to deliver the changes to the curriculum that are essential to Junior Cycle reform.
“In a recent survey by The ASTI, almost 50% of principals in schools surveyed stated that they have little or no capacity to implement the reforms. Up to 10,000 second level teachers have indicated to their unions that there are certain aspects of the reform proposals that they find highly problematic and that could damage education.
“The Department agreed to establish a working group to look at implementation of Junior Cycle reform. However, it is extremely worrying that Minister Quinn has dictated that this group will not meet until the ASTI has signed-up to the Haddington Road Agreement.
“This is a cynical move on the part of the Minister and it amounts to an ultimatum that places his own political agenda ahead of delivering a quality education system in this state. This is unacceptable and I would imagine that it is unacceptable to every parent of school-going children in this state.
“The Minister must engage with teachers without preconditions and in a progressive fashion, and address their very genuine concerns regarding the deliverability of Junior Cycle reform and stop using it a political bargaining chip in his dispute with the ASTI.”

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