Are you right there Michael? Collins and Noonan PA Images and Photocall

Ruairi Quinn: Michael Noonan has a tougher job than Michael Collins...

The Education Minister warns secondary school teachers that budgets are tight as the State’s first Finance Minister Collins had “more room for manouevre” than his most recent successor.

EDUCATION MINISTER RUAIRI Quinn has been following up with yesterday’s “frank” speech to national school teachers with a similarly forthright address to a secondary school teachers’ union.

Quinn, pushing home the point that resources will continue to be tight, claimed that “Michael Collins, the State’s first Minister for Finance, had in 1922, more room for manoeuvre than Michael Noonan has today”.

He told delegates at the ASTI convention that the “challenges” facing the economy and the “further difficult measures” that the government needs to take are unavoidable. He said:

We all have to come to terms with the extent to which our reliance on EU/IMF funding means that we operate without economic sovereignty.

He said the country was “akin to being in receivership” and that it would be some time before the Government could return to making “unfettered decisions”.

In a clear statement that teachers who supervise extracurricular activities on their own time can not expect to be paid for the extra work, he said that there was a “tradition of volunteerism” among secondary teachers, and described it as “one of the strengths of the education system”.

Quinn warned that teachers who have held fixed-term contracts up to now will face “increased uncertainty for the year ahead”. He said:

We will need to redeploy teachers into positions that traditionally have been filled by teachers on fixed-term contracts in order to deliver on the commitment in relation to no redundancy for those in permanent positions or who have acquired a C.I.D. (Contract of Indefinite Duration).

The issue of reform of the Junior Certificate was also on the curriculum with Quinn claiming that the current one was not meeting the needs of students. Some of his ideas for changing the course include:

  • Reducing the number of subjects studied to Junior Cert level;
  • Not making the Junior Cert exams at the end of third year the main form of student assessment;
  • Introducing standardised tests of literacy and numeracy to ensure all students acquire these basic skills.

The changes in the Junior Certificate will not be copperfastened until the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) delivers its report following a national consultation on reform of the cycle later this year.

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