Jan O’Sullivan outlines Junior Cert reforms

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Reforms: Minister Jan O'Sullivan
EDUCATION Minister and local TD Jan O’Sullivan has outlined the reforms which have resolved the dispute with teachers over Junior Cert reform.

EDUCATION Minister and local TD Jan O’Sullivan has outlined the reforms which have resolved the dispute with teachers over Junior Cert reform.

A plan to resolve the row- which led to two one-day walkouts in Limerick - was put in place following intensive negotiations between the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) and departmental officials.

It is likely to pave the way for the uninterrupted roll-out of the junior cycle changes, on a phased basis, from September.

Ms O’Sullivan said the reforms must recognise a wide range of learning techniques, plus a requirement to reduce the focus on one-term exams as a means of student assessment.

Both students and parents will be given a broader picture of their learning throughout the whole of the cycle.

Both Ms O’Sullivan and the union’s executives have agreed on these principles.

Crucially, the final exam will be marked by the State Examinations Commission and not teachers.

However, teachers will assess the progress of students through classroom-based assessments.

A written assessment task, based on this, will be completed in each subject in the third year.

This will be marked by the State Examinations Commission.

On top of this,is a new subject, ‘Well-being’.

It will encompass Physical Education, Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Cvic Social and Political Education (CSPE).

New courses will be available for each of these subject areas, and overall learning time will be 400 hours.

After the completion of the three year Junior Cycle students will receive a ‘Profile of Achievement’ which will record their progress in all areas, including the written exam, the classroom-based assessments and other extra-curricular activities.

An updated Junior Cycle Framework will be published by the end of June this year, providing full details of the possible combination of subjects and short courses.

Ms O’Sullivan said: “I wholeheartedly recommend these revised proposals, and believe they merit the support of all involved in education in Ireland. They place the student at the centre of the learning process, and allow for new ways of learning to be properly assessed.”

She added: “Expanding the type of assessment and the skills to be assessed is central to junior cycle reform, and, through negotiation, we have been able to deliver the best of both worlds. Students will sit a valued written exam, and have much more of their development and progress measured through classroom assessment.”

The TD said she hopes the reforms “which are needed to best serve our young people” can now be delivered without any further delay.