TUI Vice-President and teacher with Donegal ETB, Joanne Irwin said teachers will always give their full support to positive change that guarantees improvement.
She was speaking as teachers from Donegal joined colleagues around the country in taking part in a one day’s strike today in protest over significant aspects of the Framework for Junior Cycle proposals.
The strike was organised by second level teacher unions TUI and ASTI.
Ms Irwin said “We agree that portfolio and practical work are vital elements of a modern assessment system. Indeed, many subjects already contain such elements, but these are assessed externally.
“However, we are gravely concerned by the potential for damage posed by the new Junior Cycle proposals’. Joanne Irwin has attended all meetings with the Minister for Education and Skills since September and has stated that the teacher unions have achieved significant improvements from the original proposals envisaged under the previous Minister.
“Despite being reduced from 100% to 40% of the total marks in the Minister’s latest proposals, we believe that the introduction of school-based assessment for certification purposes would compromise the credibility and transparency of the examinations process. As practicing educators, we also believe that it would significantly change the relationship between teacher and student.
“In addition to this, schools continue to struggle in the wake of six years of austerity cutbacks. Teachers have serious concerns about the capacity to deal with the magnitude of change that the implementation of the proposals would involve. None of these cutbacks were reversed in last month’s Budget, and the Department of Education and Skills refused to engage in any discussion of resourcing in the most recent negotiations with TUI and ASTI.
“There is also strong opposition to an increased bureaucratic workload that would deflect teachers from their core teaching role and a lack of clarity in terms of the number of assessment elements proposed. Too many assessment elements overlapping will increase rather than decrease the pressure on students. Our principal teachers will also experience a significant increase in administrative workload. Despite these serious concerns, the Department of Education and Skills refused to engage in any discussion of resourcing, including time, in the most recent negotiations with TUI and ASTI.
“Today, we are sending a clear message about our concerns over education standards, fairness, quality and the need for resources and time to accommodate major change.’
“The OECD’s Government at a Glance 2013 report shows that out of 34 countries surveyed, Ireland enjoys the highest level of public satisfaction with the education system and schools – 82% compared to the OECD average of 66%. These findings are echoed by the Chief Inspector’s Report 2010-12 (published in November 2013) which shows that 87% of parents are happy with the teaching standards in second level schools. Teachers do not want to put this high level of public trust at risk.”