Fastforward 2014: change is in the air in education
Looking to the future in education: A rocky year in store for teachers, potentially a good one for parents and will Quinn continue in education?
Will 2014 be DIT’s year?
1 Teacher strikes loom
As the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) hangs tough, a lot is riding on the latest ballot on a different version of the Haddington Road agreement. The executive has recommended a “no” vote and if the members vote with them (the ballot closes tomorrow), the Government has said that, supervision and substitution will become unpaid and mandatory. All told, as many as 500 post-primary schools could be facing closure.
2 Dublin Institute of Technology
(DIT) to become Ireland’s first
Will 2014 be DIT’s year? The institute of technology, in an alliance with IT Blanchardstown and IT Tallaght, is seeking university status and the Technological Universities Bill is due to be published in 2014. There are two other alliances: Waterford and Carlow institutes of technology in the south east, and Cork and Tralee institutes of technology in the south west. Both are bidding for university status but Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has signalled that the Dublin bid is the clear front runner to get there first.
3 The revamped Junior Cycle –
new era or damp squib?
From September, the new Junior Cycle is being phased in with the introduction of the new English course. Many teachers like the thrust of the new Junior Cycle which is ambitious and interesting but are concerned about the limited training and in-service available. There are also very real concerns about doing away with a high-stakes State exam that’s marked by outside examiners, and replacing it with in-school assessment where teachers mark their own students. How will students take to it?
4 Increased accountability
The powers of the Teaching Council will be beefed up in an amendment to the Education Act which will make membership of the council mandatory for all teachers. The amendment will also strengthen the powers of the council to investigate claims of underperformance by teachers and to impose sanctions where necessary.
5 A problem of language
Expect a national debate on the state and place of the Irish language in education. The Chief Inspector’s report released in November expressed significant concerns about the standards of teaching and learning of Irish at both primary and post-primary level and the Irish language commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin is stepping down due to a lack of Government support for the language. Fine Gael’s election campaign pledge to abolish compulsory Irish at Leaving Cert was quietly set aside. Will 2014 see it resurrected?