The changes put forward by Minister O’Sullivan mark a significant shift in policy from the proposals adopted by her predecessor, and have the potential to see a much improved Junior Cert programme implemented.
The Donegal TD said last night: “The Minister’s decision to concede on the independent assessment issue and to maintain a State exam as part of the assessment process is a welcome development, and lays the groundwork for a tangible agreement between the Department and the teachers unions to be reached.
“I understand that the relationship between the unions and the Department has been damaged by the manner in which former Minister Ruairi Quinn conducted the negotiations process.
“His dictatorial approach to the issues and his reluctance to take the concerns of teachers and parents on board caused much ill-will. However, Minister O’Sullivan’s belated recognition of the need for change has brought about proposals which can allay the majority of those concerns.
“Fianna Fáil has consistently advocated the importance of maintaining independent state certified assessment of the Junior Certificate and we believe the Minister’s u-turn on the issue can now pave the way for an agreement. I would urge the unions and teachers to give serious consideration to these proposals, and how they can ultimately lead to the improvement of our education system.
“Both sides in this long-running negotiation process should return to the talks table to try and reach an agreeable position. The current proposals can go a long way to putting our second level system on a solid footing which will benefit future generations to come.”