- Ireland's Online Resource for Parents & Teachers

Parenting & Education in Ireland

Minister urges Unions to cancel strike

Posted by SchooldDays Newshound, on 25/11/2014. Minister urges Unions to cancel strikeTags: Education And Politics Teachers

Statement issued by Minister O'Sullivan 25th November

Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O'Sullivan, TD, today called on the second-level teacher unions to cancel their planned strike which is due to take place a week from today.

According to the Minister, "There is now a fair and reasonable offer on the table in relation to Junior Cycle reform. I have moved a significant distance to address the legitimate concerns of education partners while still maintaining the integrity of Junior Cycle reform.

"I welcome the support from the National Parents Council (post primary), the Irish Second-Level Students Union and various management bodies for my initiative. In contrast, both second-level unions have chosen to dismiss this significant offer and instead opt for strike. "With good will on both sides, the new framework for Junior Cycle can form the basis for an agreement that brings about much needed reform. I have demonstrated the willingness to compromise to bring about an agreement, unfortunately to date the union side has steadfastly failed to move.

"Strike action that disrupts students and inconveniences parents is not warranted. I would urge the second-level unions to cancel the planned strike action and re-engage in meaningful talks on the basis of the framework I put forward. Negotiation will resolve this issue, but negotiation involves movement from both sides."

The new framework for Junior Cycle reform put forward by the Minister includes the following elements:

60% of marks in the junior cycle should be allocated on the basis of an exam at the end of third year. This will continue to be set and marked by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) for all subjects.

The remaining 40% of marks will be allocated for school-based work, such as portfolios or projects. This work will be marked by the class teacher. Teachers within each school will meet to discuss and compare how they are marking to ensure consistency in the marks awarded.
In addition, the SEC will have monitor the marking of the school-based work to further ensure consistence and fairness.

The Minister concluded, "School-based assessment is an important element of reform. Unlike an externally marked exam or assessment it can capture the full picture of a student's contribution and progression over a period of time. School-based assessment also enhances the feedback between students and teachers and can significantly improve the learning experience. Having a blended mix of externally assessed exams and school-based assessment will be a positive development for schools. I would urge both unions to reconsider their position and re-engage in talks rather than proceeding with a strike that serves no-one's interests."
Source Dept of Ed website



(25-11-2014 17:47)

Statement below issued by Teacher Unions in response to Minister's statement above

Responding to the Minister for Education and Skills today, the second-level teacher unions - the ASTI and the TUI - said they are willing to engage in talks on the Framework for Junior Cycle on the basis that those talks address teachers concerns about assessing their own students and the resourcing of the Framework.

It is misleading for the Minister to state that the unions have steadfastly failed to move, said ASTI President Philip Irwin. We have made clear to the Minister that we are willing to engage on many of the proposals contained in the Framework for Junior Cycle. We have supported a move away from a single terminal exam and the inclusion of portfolios and project work etc. In addition, teachers have implemented a wide range of changes to the Junior Cycle curriculum over the last 10 years, and will continue to do so. This has included the introduction of project maths, a new science syllabus, and group work, especially in CSPE.

Despite the Ministers decision to change the original proposals, the introduction of 40 per cent school based assessment would compromise the credibility and transparency of the examinations process, said TUI President Gerry Quinn. A system of teachers assessing their own students for state exam purposes will significantly change the relationship between the teacher and student. We agree with the Minister that new modes of assessment such as practical work and portfolios are an important development. We support this. However, we want all State exam components to be externally assessed. In recent months we have exhausted all available avenues in an effort to have our concerns addressed.

Last week talks between the teacher unions and the Minister for Education and Skills failed to resolve the impasse over the Framework for Junior Cycle. Twenty-seven thousand teachers who are members of the ASTI and the TUI will engage in a one day strike on Tuesday, December 2nd. A further strike day will take place in January 2015, a date to be decided.

Submit a comment

Please respect the terms of use of our discussion boards. Full terms here .
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. When you submit your comment, you'll be sent a link to confirm it.
Name Email