History teachers criticise union stance on junior cycle subjects

Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) being singled out for ‘preferential treatment’

In a statement yesterday, the Cork History Teachers’ Association said, “We cannot understand why ASTI/TUI would single out CSPE for preferential treatment over other subjects. In these circumstances, we are opposed to their demand to confirm CSPE as a State-certified exam.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

In a statement yesterday, the Cork History Teachers’ Association said, “We cannot understand why ASTI/TUI would single out CSPE for preferential treatment over other subjects. In these circumstances, we are opposed to their demand to confirm CSPE as a State-certified exam.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

 

The unions of secondary teacher have been criticised by some of their own members for singling out the protection of civic, social and political education (CSPE) in negotiations over junior-cycle reform.

In a statement yesterday, the Cork History Teachers’ Association said, “We cannot understand why ASTI/TUI would single out CSPE for preferential treatment over other subjects. In these circumstances, we are opposed to their demand to confirm CSPE as a State-certified exam.”

The history teachers say they support the unions’ opposition to school-based assessment, a cornerstone of Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan’s intended reforms. However, they take issue with the protection of CSPE as a core demand in the talks, saying this could have the effect of downgrading other subjects such as history.

Five key areas

In public statements, the unions have listed five areas of key importance in the dispute, one of them being the retention of CSPE as a State-certified exam.

The other four are parity of treatment of subjects; retention of external assessment; deferral of the second-year English assessment component; and issues relating to workload and resources.

Dermot Lucey, secretary of the Cork History Teachers’ Association, said the latest proposals for reform in Dr Pauric Travers’ document would see the new subject of “wellbeing”, incorporating CSPE, becoming obligatory for all students.

“If the ASTI/TUI demand was agreed to by the department, this would mean CSPE becoming a compulsory core subject in the new junior cycle. Such a situation would have serious consequences for the jobs of hundreds of history teachers.”

Maximum subjects

He said this was particularly relevant in schools where students currently sit 11 exam subjects in the Junior Cert, as the reforms would stipulate a maximum of 10 exam subjects. “Principals in these schools would be compelled to reduce their history hours, in many cases forcing students to choose between history and geography in first year.”

Under the Travers plan, CSPE, physical education, and social personal and health education would be merged under a compulsory programme.