SECONDARY school teachers across Limerick staged lunchtime demonstrations yesterday in protest at proposed changes to the Junior Cycle.
The action, backed by trade unions TUI and ASTI, comes following proposals by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to change the junior cycle.
These changes include replacing the existing Junior Cert exam with continuous in-school assessment, and a proposal that students will not have to pick core subjects for these tests.
Short rallies were held outside secondary schools across the city and county, while the TUI and ASTI are balloting members to seek a mandate for non-co-operation with the new junior cycle proposals.
There was no disruption to lessons.
At Scoil Carmel in O’Connell Avenue, history and Spanish teacher Derval Ryan said Mr Quinn should learn from the example of changing the equivalent GCSE system in Britain, which is now being reversed.
“They did this in England some time ago, and are now reversing what they have done. This is going to ruin Irish education,” she argued.
She fears youngsters will not have any sense of culture, or context if they do away with rules which make the study of many subjects at Junior Cert compulsory.
“Young people are not going to know anything about history because it will become optional. Children will not have any context. They won’t know where they are from, they will have no sense of identity, they will not know what is going on in the world,” he said.
Art teacher, councillor Tom Shortt said he is worried about the impartiality of the reforms when it comes to in-house marking.
“We are concerned marking will not be objective, because people will be influenced by knowing students, and having their arms twisted,” he said.
“We are worried this is just a cost-cutting measure, and we are perhaps throwing the baby out with the bathwater”.
Mr Quinn said he intends to press ahead with the reforms regardless of any industrial action.