Department announces new name for junior certificate

Working group to start meetings to introduce reforms


The Junior Certificate is to get a new name, it has been announced by the Department of Education and Skills.

The JCSA, Junior Cycle Student Award, has been selected with the new name set to mark a major overhaul of the education provided under the junior cycle in Ireland.

A fundamental change was “long overdue” the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn said. The reformed package would put the students rather than exams at the centre of the three year cycle, he said.

The challenge for Mr Quinn is to win full agreement with the teachers’ unions on the implementation of the new student award, which is scheduled to begin as soon as next September.

A new Working Group on Junior Cycle Reform will meet for the first time this Friday, with the meeting involving education partners including unions and departmental officials.

While reform of the junior cycle was “urgently required”, it was being phased in over several years, the Minister said. “I am determined that the new JCSA will be introduced at a rate which will allow our schools, students and teachers the time to embed these changes.”

He acknowledged that time had been lost over the past few months, a reference to the delays caused by the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland’s initial decision to reject the Haddington Road Agreement on civil service reform.

Mr Quinn added however that the working group could provide an opportunity for dialogue “that will address legitimate concerns and enable implementation to proceed”.

The Junior Cycle was introduced 25 years ago but has seen no major reform over that time despite societal and economic changes over the period. Evidence is also emerging that the cycle as is actually inhibits student performance in key areas such as English and Maths.

The new JCSA is meant to overcome these problems and introduce better ways of teaching and learning .

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