‘Serious concerns’ raised by unions over junior cycle changes

ASTI says one day in-service training for teachers is ‘totally inadequate’

ASTI general secretary Pat King said the union has received responses from around 10,000 teachers in recent weeks who ‘are very concerned that schools are not prepared’ for the new junior cycle curriculum. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

ASTI general secretary Pat King said the union has received responses from around 10,000 teachers in recent weeks who ‘are very concerned that schools are not prepared’ for the new junior cycle curriculum. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Mon, Nov 25, 2013, 12:13

Planned changes to the junior cycle curriculum “cannot be implemented in the manner and timeframe” proposed by the Department of Education and Skills, teachers’ unions have warned.

Speaking after a meeting with representatives from the Department, general secretary of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland John MacGabhann said the union had “serious concerns over the credibility and integrity of school based assessments” planned under the new reforms.

“We also believe that small schools or schools in communities worst hit by the recession could be particularly disadvantaged in the proposed new process,” he added.

“Above all, we are challenging the false assumption that such significant and far-reaching reform can be implemented in circumstances where schools are denied the teaching and time resources that would be absolutely necessary.”

Speaking on RTE Radio this morning, general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) Pat King said the union has received responses from around 10,000 teachers in recent weeks who “are very concerned that schools are not prepared”.

He said 50 per cent of principals believe schools don’t have the capacity to deal with the reforms, and added that the one day of in-service training to be provided for teachers of English, the first subject to change curriculum, was “totally inadequate”.

“We are in favour of reform but it has got to be organised and orchestrated properly,” he said, welcoming the fact that talks on the issue were taking place with the Department today.

“We want department officials to listen. We want honest engagement.”

Today’s meeting arose out of a commitment made to the ASTI during recent negotiations with the Department of Education on the Haddington Road Agreement.

At these talks, Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn recognised the concerns raised by teachers about proposed changes to the junior cycle.

A working group is to be established to consider how these concerns can be addressed.

As part of the ASTI’s industrial action campaign, a ban has been imposed on members attending in service training on the curriculum changes. A spokeswoman for the union said the ban would remain in place pending the outcome of a ballot on the latest Haddington Road proposals.

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