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Junior Cycle proposals not supported by adequate funding - McLellan

20 January, 2015

Sinn Féin Cork East TD Sandra McLellan has said that Junior Cycle proposals are unviable as they have not been matched by adequate funding or supports from the state.

Speaking this evening during Sinn Féin's PMB on Junior Cycle Reform, Deputy McLellan said:  

“When considering the long overdue efforts to reform the Junior Cycle, Sinn Féin has consistently supported the progressive proposals put forward by the government. If implemented properly, reform of the Junior Cycle can greatly enhance the school curriculum.  However the ambitious proposals being put forward by the Minister have not been matched by the funding and supports that teachers will need to successfully implement meaningful change.

“The vast majority of our teachers, whose unquestionable commitment within the classroom is universally acknowledged, want to play their part in delivering Junior Cert Reform. Any contradiction of this fact degrades their dedication to our young people.

“Concerns have been raised that such drastic changes to the education system, and for which adequate preparation has not been made, will cause lasting damage particularly to individual students. The proposed changes are not realistic given the number of cutbacks.

“Many schools are hugely under resourced and are already being stretched beyond their means to deliver to the best of their ability. If teachers are not given the proper supports through good teaching resources, including on-going professional development and whole-school in-service, then the implementation of meaningful change will fail.

“Teachers of English, who are now required to implement the Framework for Junior Cycle English specification, received just one day of in-service prior to September 2014. All teachers will be required to implement the Framework and assess their own students in the coming years. This is entirely unrealistic and unfair given the pressures so many teachers find themselves under today.

“Unfortunately, it is often the most vulnerable children who are unfairly left behind because they do not get the help they need. And schools that are already struggling to deliver will particularly feel the brunt of the new reforms as a result.

“While we recognise that modernisation of the Junior Cycle is needed, it must be done in a way that is sustainable. Sinn Féin has welcomed the Minister’s engagement with the unions, but the concerns of teachers must also be heard. If their concerns are not dealt with and if they are not involved sufficiently in the development of new reforms, any changes will be made redundant.”

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