Updated at 5.58pm
MEMBERS OF TEACHING unions the ASTI and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland are to be balloted on non-cooperation with the new junior cycle programme.
The two unions expressed their “grave disappointment” at efforts being made to address teachers’ concerns over the changes being proposed following the first meeting yesterday of a working group set up to consider the implementation of the new ‘Junior Cycle Student Award’.
Speaking after the meeting, Education Minister Ruairí Quinn said he was confident that teachers, managers and parents could “roll-out the new JCSA in a careful and considered way”. The Department also proposed slowing down the pace of the planned reforms.
But the two second-level unions said their concerns weren’t being properly addressed, and that the meeting did not involve “genuine engagement on the issues of most concern”.
The TUI executive committee will meet next Friday to consider the wording of a vote to be put to members on non-cooperation with the new scheme, while the central executive council of the ASTI decided at a meeting in Dublin’s Gresham Hotel this evening that its membership would also be balloted on the issue.
“Second-levels teachers are in favour of reform of the Junior Cycle. However, teachers have serious concerns about key aspects of what is proposed,” ASTI General Secretary Pat King said.
“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.”
King said the Education Minister had failed to engage with teachers before he announced his plans for the reforms more than a year ago, and that there had been “no genuine consultation” about teachers’ concerns in the meantime.
The planned changes will see eight new “short courses” introduced to the curriculum, including computer programming, PE, Chinese and artistic performance. Students will get marks for showing what they can do in practical tasks rather than in the examination hall.
TUI General Secretary John McGabhainn said that key questions still remained “on standards, capacity and equity” in the wake of yesterday’s meeting.
“Even at this late stage, there remain more questions than answers and this is completely unacceptable,” McGabhainn said.
First posted at 2.22pm.