Key reform of Junior Cert system under way

Aislinn McCooey

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn


Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has announced that a major overhaul of the Junior Certificate system will take place in schools over the next few years.

The plan is to phase out the current system of one large exam at the end of the year, and introduce a system of continuous assessment. This will mean that 40% of the marks will come from coursework while 60% of the marks will come from a final written assessment.

In another change, the exam papers while being set by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) will be administered and corrected by the teacher. However, English Irish and Maths will be corrected by the SEC for the first few years.

Also, from 2014 second year pupils will face standardised testing in English, reading and Maths. Standardised testing for Science will be introduced in 2016.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One news Minister Quinn said that it would cost approximately €10million a year to implement the new system and that the money would come from his own budget.

Pupils currently in fifth class are to be the first to face the new scheme with it coming into effect in 2014. If it does, parents will be more aware of their child’s progress through the first few years of secondary school as they will receive the results of all standardised tests and other exams.

Local parent Máire who didn’t wish to give her second name said: “I think it’s a great idea if it’s properly organised. Many children struggle with the pressure of just one large exam at the end, and this might make it more manageable for them”

The association of secondary school teachers said that they are disappointed that the decision was made without consulting parents or teachers. They said that reforming education is a serious matter and should not be “used for eliciting shock, awe and grabbing headlines”

However IBEC’s head of education policy Tony Donoghue has welcomed the changes saying that it could be “the most important education reform of recent years” if handled in the right way.

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