Quinn faces renewed challenges on Junior Cert reform

TUI votes against proposed changes to examination process

Junior Cert take a  maths examination at St. Raphaela's School, Stillorgan.

Junior Cert take a maths examination at St. Raphaela's School, Stillorgan.



Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn faces renewed challenges in implementing Junior Certificate reform as opposition hardens across teacher unions, following a vote at the Teachers Union of Ireland conference this morning.

The TUI's rejection of the new Junior Cycle comes on foot of a similar expression of concern at the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (Asti) conference yesterday.

Speaker after speaker at the TUI lined up to criticise the proposed changes. Nobody spoke in favour of the new Junior Cycle, and the vote against the exam plans was unanimous. Teachers expressed concern that that they were not being sufficiently resourced for the new exam, which will require them to set and correct their own exams and devise their own short courses.

The new Junior Cycle will also see a reduction in the number of examinable subjects and an increase in short courses, with schools taking a guiding hand in developing their own curricula.

Bernie Ruane, a past president of the TUI, said she was an advocate for change but that the new Junior Cycle would not be successful because schools would issue their own certification, and students would not receive official State certification. "Is a Junior Cycle certificate from a small rural school down the country going to have parity of esteem with heavily funded fee-paying school?" she asked.

Brian Doran of the Wicklow branch, who teaches practical subjects, said his workload increased dramatically when similar changes were introduced at Leaving Cert level.

Liz Farrell, an English teacher from Carlow, said t both she and her colleagues were in a limbo, with no clarity emerging from the Department of Education.

The TUI Executive has now been instructed by its members to resist the implementation of new syllabi and curricula, involved in Junior Certificate reform, without the adequate provision of training and resources to the teachers involved.

Siobhan Peters, a newly qualified teacher, said she was initially excited when her school was chosen to take part in the new Junior Cycle programme but that, one year later, she has become disillusioned with the new reforms due to insufficient training. Ms Peters said only two days had been allocated by the Department of Education.