Junior Cycle Reform Plans Could Undermine Standards - ASTI

Most teachers believe that the education Minister's Junior Cycle reform plans could undermine educational standards in schools, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) President Gerry Breslin said today.

Mr Breslin was speaking at the launch of the publication Teachers’ Voice which presents the findings of an ASTI consultation with second-level teachers on Junior Cycle reform.

Over 320 second-level schools, representing an estimated 10,000 teachers, participated in the consultation. The consultation followed the announcement last October of plans to reform the Junior Cycle and the Junior Certificate examination by the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn. The Minister’s plans – set out in the document A Framework for Junior Cycle – depart in a number of significant ways from the advice to the Minister from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

"What has most shocked teachers is not the content of the Minister's Framework, nor the imminent implementation deadlines, but the fact that teachers’ views were not sought on key aspects of the Framework," said Mr Breslin.

The ASTI President said the ASTI consultation exercise – which included a comprehensive questionnaire survey – was the first opportunity that teachers had to give their views on the Minister’s radical reform plans for Junior Cycle.

"The consultation found that teachers believe that the Minister’s Framework has the potential to improve learning outcomes for students," said Mr Breslin. "However, teachers are resoundingly stating that the Minister’s plan to remove the State exam and State qualification at Junior Cycle is a retrograde step that is fundamentally unfair to students and threatens to lower standards.

"Teachers who participated in the consultation voiced grave concerns about the impact of the Minister's Framework in its current form on standards in education, equity in the second-level education system, and the nature of student-teacher relationships. A number of teachers noted that, if implemented, the Framework would result in a minority of students leaving school without any State certificate, despite having completed the Junior Cycle."


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