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Teacher Unions to consider balloting on proposed Junior Cycle changes

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound on 17/01/2014. Teacher Unions to consider balloting on proposed Junior Cycle changesTags: Teachers Education And Politics

According to a Press Release issued this evening by the ASTI, Teachers unions are to consider balloting on proposed Junior Cycle changes. The statement goes on to say that it's union representatives are "gravely disappointed after attending a working group on proposed Junior Cycle changes with the other education partners and Department of Education and Skills officials today. "

According to the statement, the ASTI and the TUI believe that today’s meeting did not involve genuine engagement on the issues of most concern to second-level teachers. The executive bodies of the TUI and ASTI will meet to decide on balloting members on non-cooperation with the implementation of the proposed changes.

Speaking after the meeting ASTI General Secretary Pat King said:
“TUI and ASTI representatives today attended a meeting of the working group on proposed Junior Cycle changes with the other education partners.

“In a series of bilateral meetings over several months, both ASTI and TUI had outlined their significant concerns over the proposed changes, including the threat to the standards and objectivity of exams at Junior Cycle level, the capacity of schools to implement the new Junior Cycle programme in the wake of a litany of cutbacks, and the potential of the programme to exacerbate inequalities between schools.”
TUI General Secretary John MacGabhann said:

“We have consistently stressed that change for which adequate preparation has not been made can cause lasting damage to the education system and particularly to individual students.
“With less than nine months left before implementation is scheduled to commence, today was set as a deadline for the Department of Education and Skills to provide concrete information that could be objectively considered by the unions.

“Regrettably, key questions on standards, capacity and equity which we have repeatedly posed were not satisfactorily answered and the level of detail required on a number of crucial matters was not provided. Even at this late stage, there remain more questions than answers and this is completely unacceptable.”

According to RTE, following today's meeting Minister Quinn has acknowledged that some of the concerns of the unions were legitimate and has said that the Department of Education will slow down the pace at which a new programme covering the first three years of secondary education will be introduced. The Department has also advised that at least two additional days of training, on top of the three originally proposed, will be given to teachers for each subject in the new programme and one of those days will involve schools closing to allow all staff to participate. Additionally the next two years will see just two new subject specifications introduced - English and Science - as opposed to the four originally planned. The key issues around lack of resources in schools and concerns around school-based assessment remain to be addressed. The Department has proposed that sub-groups be established to look in detail at these two matters.



(18-01-2014 17:05)

The ASTI has confirmed following a meeting of it's Executive Council this afternoon that it is to ballot its 17,000 members on the Junior Cycle reform proposals.

ASTI Statement below:

"The decision follows a meeting of the unions Central Executive Council which expressed the view that the proposals include a number of educationally unsound reforms that have the potential to damage young peoples education.

Speaking after the meeting ASTI General Secretary Pat King said that teachers concerns about the Junior Cycle reform proposals have not been addressed:

Second-levels teachers are in favour of reform of the Junior Cycle. However, teachers have serious concerns about key aspects of what is proposed. These concerns include the capacity of schools to implement significant educational reform following more than five years of education cutbacks, the threat to education standards in schools and between schools, and the potential for the proposals to exacerbate inequality between schools and between students.

Mr King said the Minister for Education and Skills had failed to engage with teachers before he announced his plans for Junior Cycle reform more than a year ago. The ASTI had taken every opportunity to engage with the Minister and his Department, but there has been no genuine consultation about teachers key concerns.

Teachers want the best for their students. They understand the importance of ensuring that we get such fundamental reform of teaching and learning right from the beginning. Teachers cannot stand back and allow the implementation of reform plans that that they believe will damage education, said Mr King.

ASTI members will be balloted on withdrawal of co-operation with the implementation of the Junior Cycle Framework and on industrial action as decided by Central Executive Council."

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