Many teachers ‘not finished Junior Cert reform training’

Asti says teachers have ‘serious concerns’ on capacity to implement reforms in autumn

Teachers held a lunchtime protest to highlight concerns about the proposed Junior Cycle outside Newpark Comprehensive School in Blackrock in March this year. Photograph: Dave Meehan/ The Irish Times

Teachers held a lunchtime protest to highlight concerns about the proposed Junior Cycle outside Newpark Comprehensive School in Blackrock in March this year. Photograph: Dave Meehan/ The Irish Times

Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 18:31

At least 10 per cent of teachers of English have not completed training for the Junior Certificate reforms ahead of the rollout due to start in September, latest figures have shown.

A spokeswoman for the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (Asti) said teachers had “serious concerns” about their own and their schools’ capacities to implement the reforms this autumn.

“We do believe that reforms should be delayed for a year. This would provide an opportunity to resolve the dispute and to ensure that changes are introduced in an agreed and professional manner,” she said. One day of training for the new syllabus for the The Junior Cycle Student Award was “insufficient and inadequate”.

“Teachers also have grave concerns about the importance of maintaining standards of assessment, including ensuring reliability, consistency and objectivity through external marking.”

Teachers are now committed to implementing the changed curriculum this September on a subject-by- subject basis, starting with English.

TUI and Asti formally remain in dispute and teachers are refusing to attend training sessions.

The full impact will not be seen until the following year, when teacher assessments are due to be filed.

Former education minister Ruairí Quinn pushed the Junior Cycle reforms through despite protests from the teacher unions.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education and Skills confirmed 90 per cent of teachers of English attended the one-day workshops.

“The remaining 10 per cent of teachers of English will not have completed the first workshop before September but may avail of the online supports,” she said.

She said another full day of training would be given in the 2014/2015 school year.

Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on education Charlie McConalogue said the figures, which emerged in a Dáil debate on Tuesday, were of concern.

“It [Junior Cycle Student Award] needs to start in an environment where outstanding issues have been resolved and proper training been completed by teachers,” he said.

Mr McConalogue called for recently appointed Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan to introduce the new English syllabus at the same time as the new science curriculum in 2015.