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Teachers welcome delay in changes to Junior Cert

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has said the introduction of a limit on subjects for Junior Cert students will not be rolled out until 2014.

Students sitting their Junior Cert last June.
Students sitting their Junior Cert last June.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE TEACHERS’ UNION of Ireland has welcomed a decision by the Government to delay the introduction of a limit on subjects taken by students sitting the Junior Certificate exam.

A compulsory eight-subject limit will not be rolled out until 2014, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn announced yesterday.

“Principals and teachers were at a complete loss as to how this may impact on the school administration next year,” TUI General Secretary Peter MacMenamin has said.

It is no exaggeration to state that its introduction could have led to chaos in schools around the country,” he added.

Teachers in Ireland are concerned that the changes, as they are currently proposed, could see students in a position where they could not select subjects which they have the most interest or ability in.

Although the union said it understands the the limit is being mooted to reduce examination stress and further develop general literacy and numeracy skills, it added that its introduction next year could have done more damage than good.

“Any educational reform should be appropriately resourced and for educationally sound reasons only,” explained MacMenamin.

Quinn clarified yesterday that the new limit of eight subjects will be a requirement for students entering secondary school in 2014 and taking the exam in 2017.

At a meeting of post-primary principals, the Minister said that he encourages schools to begin limiting the number of exam subjects for students but stressed that there was “no compulsion” on them to do so.

The reform is part of major changes in the Junior Cycle which have been proposed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Currently, the majority of students sitting the Junior Cert take 11 subjects. However, about 2,000 students take 12 subjects or more.

The move has also been welcomed by the ASTI, Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA) and Opposition parties. Fianna Fáil spokesperson on education Brendan Smith said that it makes sense to hold off on introducing a new limit on the number of subjects for the State exam.

“Such significant reform cannot be rushed through,” he said.

Read: Teachers say Junior Cert reform plans ‘would do more damage than good’>

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