ASTI: Teachers express ‘total opposition’ to correcting Leaving Cert students’ work

Delegates fear reforms will repeat the ‘dumbing down’ of junior cycle

Delegates display their votes at the ASTI annual convention in Cork. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Delegates display their votes at the ASTI annual convention in Cork. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

 

Secondary teachers have stated their “total opposition” to any Leaving Cert reforms involving teachers being forced to assess their own students for State exams.

The Department of Education’s advisory body on the curriculum recently started consultation on senior cycle reforms which could lead to major changes to the State exams.

At the annual convention of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) on Wednesday, delegates voted unanimously to oppose any attempt to introduce assessment of students by teachers at senior cycle.

Many teachers also expressed concern over the “dumbing down” of subjects as part of new junior cycle reforms.

Nathalie O’Neill, a Dublin-based teacher, said junior cycle changes had been dogged by inadequate time and resources and this had resulted in an “avalanche of bureaucracy”.

ASTI general secretary Kieran Christie sounded a warning that any planned reforms to the Leaving Cert must involve teachers.

He said the ASTI was “ not opposed to reform per se”, but any changes must be based on solid educational principles that support good teaching and learning.

“ASTI supports externally assessed state examinations, not for selfish reasons but because they meet the professional requirements of any national examination, namely, that it is fair, transparent and objective,” he said.

Several teachers also expressed frustration over the lack of “meaningful consultation” over curricular changes.

Una Bergin told the convention teachers’ concerns over changes to the junior cycle had been ignored.

She expressed concern that “flawed courses will be embedded in the system for years” as a result.

Ms Bergin said the reformed English exam had turned into a race, while some books on the syllabus were better suited to primary level.

Pauline Nagle asked who will take responsibility for “this new experiment” that was being carried out on pupils.

There were also concerns raised over the quality of training available to teachers involved in delivering the junior cycle changes.

Ed Byrne, a former ASTI president, said his training to date had involved “playing games, sticking dots on walls” and “ making posters”.

“So, now, I am a fairly expert poster maker,” he said.

Delegates overwhelmingly passed a motion calling for “no curricular changes” to be introduced without meaningful consultation.