Sir, – I wish to strongly refute the assertion that the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) had signed off on the Minister for Education’s proposed radical changes to the Junior Cycle (Teacher’s Pet, October 16th).
As part of its engagement on the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) Council and on the Junior Cycle Review Committee, TUI representatives fought long and hard for the retention of an externally assessed terminal exam and for the external moderation of school- based work. TUI endorsement of any proposed changes in the NCCA framework document has always been contingent on the availability of adequate resources to manage and implement effective and real “change”. This was emphatically conveyed to the NCCA and the Department of Education on numerous occasions.
The Minister for Education’s announcement has side-lined these important issues. In addition, the Minister’s unilateral decision to replace State certification with school certification was done without any consultation with the teacher unions. We are extremely concerned about this and believe it is poor practice in the formulation of educational policy.
Any changes introduced to the Junior Cycle must maintain the credibility and integrity of the assessment process to ensure public confidence. The removal of external moderation poses a real threat to this. TUI is also concerned that the proposed transformation of the Junior Certificate from a State examination to an internal school assessment process may have a long-term impact on consistency and standards. Under the proposed new model, those schools which have access to the most resources will have a distinct advantage over other schools. This will act to copper-fasten and exaggerate current inequalities.
In respect of any new assessment methods, TUI’s long-held position is that time, external moderation, in-service training and payment where appropriate must be provided. Under these conditions and provided it is adequately resourced, TUI has always been a strong advocate of, and is deeply committed, to curriculum change. – Yours, etc,
GERARD P CRAUGHWELL,
Teachers’ Union of Ireland,
Orwell Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6.