No settlement on junior cycle reform

jan o'sullivan The Government has again clashed with teaching unions over draft proposals aimed at resolving junior cycle reform dispute. The draft plan was produced by DCU academic Pauric Travers who is chairing talks between the unions and the Department of Education, in an effort to find a resolution.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has welcomed the Travers report and acknowledged: “I believe it goes a long way to framing a fair and equitable solution to the issues regarding the implementation of junior cycle reform.”

Union presidents Philip Iron (ASTI) and Gerry Quinn (TUI) delivered a joint statement in response to the proposals, asserting: “The ASTI and TUI believe that substantial change, clarification and negotiation on the draft document are required before agreement is possible.”

Travers endorsed Minister O’Sullivan’s analysis that any effective reform required teachers to assess 40 per cent of their students’ work while 60 per cent would be assessed by a written exam set by the State Examinations Committee. However, he also suggested that the two components of assessment remain independent of each other, including on the final certificate.

Teachers have opposed the introduction of school-based evaluation for a state certificate, arguing that it would lead to inconsistencies and subsequently undermine the integrity of the exam.

Meanwhile, Minister O’Sullivan insisted that only the unions had strong objections to the proposals. She added: “Ultimately it is my responsibility as Minister for Education and Skills to move forward with this policy … I hope that we will be doing it with the co-operation of teachers.” The Minister has started to brief school managers on the changes.

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