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Teachers worried over Junior Cert changes

Eamonn Gilmore presenting Junior Cert results to a student from Clonmel High School in 2008 -Credit Flickr- The Irish Labour Party

Eamonn Gilmore presenting Junior Cert results to a student from Clonmel High School in 2008. Photo from the Irish Labour Party

Proposed changes to the Junior Cert system have raised concerns amongst the teachers’ unions in Ireland.

Olive Crowe, a teacher in St James’s CBS on James’s Street believes the Department of Education (D.O.E) has provided little clarity surrounding changes to the Junior Cert cycle which will focus on more continuous assessment.

With the implementation of these changes set to take place in September next year the lack of information has caused concerns not only amongst schools, but also the Teachers Union Ireland (TUI).

According to a TUI spokesperson, a secondary school teachers’ workload has already increased immensely over the years and these changes could tip the border, leaving less time for tuition.

“There have been a number of savage cut backs in schools and various programmes within schools, so what we’re saying now is that we’re not convinced the time frame the D.O.E has set out is achievable in the current climate,” said the spokesperson.

The local teacher believes the Department of Education has provided very little consultation to explain the changes and consider the fact that “some teachers might have more of a workload”.

“There have been no guidelines on what is going to happen or are we going to get allocated time to correct,” said Ms Crowe.

The changes have also raised serious concerns involving favouritism amongst students, and the fear of schools trying to portray a good reputation by upping grades.

The Liberties secondary school teacher agrees that it’s very difficult to grade impartially when you know a student, even if it’s done subconsciously.

She thinks too much focus on continuous assessment puts excessive pressure on teachers when grading their pupils, particularly from disadvantaged areas.

The Association of Secondary Schools Ireland (ASTI) have voiced their stance on the issue, stating schools do not have the capacity to deal with these changes and so far one day training for English  teachers has proven inadequate.

Every consultation meeting with the Government has ended in dissatisfaction from both parties.

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