Children’s Interests Must Trump Others’ in Junior Cert Changes:
In recent weeks the Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, has come under attack from the teachers’ unions (TUI and ASTI). The main complaint being leveled at the Labour Minister is the consequences of removing independent assessment for students.
If there is one thing that parents agree on it’s that whatever the true motivation for government changes in other areas when it comes to education the interests of their children must come first. The idea that teachers and parents have not been properly consulted on changes to the Junior Certificate Cycle is receiving a “chorus of concern on the doorsteps” says local election candidate James Doyle.
Having heard the arguments at national level and listened to parents’ concerns on the campaign trail in recent weeks Doyle said that “although the existing exam-oriented system needs urgent review removing independent assessment altogether is not the way to do it”.
Acknowledging the Ministers intentions of reform Doyle, emphasized the need for serious consultation on this important issue: “Education is too important. It can’t just be cannon fodder for scoring political points or cutting costs. Personally, I would support a greater degree of continuous assessment to reflect and reward the skills and capabilities of students outside of the traditional exam-hall environment. That is one dimension of education, independent assessment is another. This is a delicate area. It is crucial that teachers and parents are properly consulted before any changes are made.”
Reflecting on the various stakeholders involved Doyle cautioned that “parents and their representative bodies be vigilant. Having experience of university-student negotiations and employment law as a student representative and more recently as a practicing solicitor I know only too well that ‘partners’ will gloss over their true motivations when negotiating changes in any so called ‘consultation’ environment.
As someone committed to practical reform of education I will do all I can to ensure that parents’ concerns on the quality of their children’s education wins out in any contest with the cost, workload, or interests of others” the local election candidate concluded before adding that in light of what happened in recent years “people do recognize the importance of education. Those who did least to create the crisis are the ones we now need to support in making sure they have what they need to create and sustain a better future for themselves. School education is vital in making that happen”.
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