16 December, 2013 - Minister Quinn announces first meeting of Working Group on Junior Cycle Reform

The first meeting of a new Working Group on Junior Cycle reform will take place on the 17th of January. This Working Group is made up of representatives from teacher unions, school management, the Department of Education & Skills (DES) and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

The group will consider and make recommendations on issues raised by unions and management bodies relating to the introduction of the new Junior Cycle.

This establishment of the Working Group comes on foot of a number of bilateral meetings between the DES and the second level teaching unions, the TUI and the ASTI.

Speaking about the Working Group, Minister Quinn said “I am committed to ensuring that we implement the curriculum and assessment changes we need as a society. Reforming the Junior Cycle is key in this regard.”

“I have already secured significant resources for this reform. Almost all teachers I speak to are supportive of the need for change. But, I am also aware that many of our teachers have legitimate concerns about how the new changes will be introduced in schools. The Working Group provides a forum for these concerns to be heard through the relevant representative structures.”

Funding has been ring-fenced for implementation of the new Junior Cycle. Support services and training for teachers and principals/deputy principals are already up and running. These services will remain in place throughout the transition to the new Junior Cycle, which will last until 2020.

The current Junior Cycle curriculum has been in place since 1989. There have been some alterations to syllabuses over the years, but no fundamental reform.

“A radical overhaul of the Junior Cycle is essential if it is to be relevant and reflect the social, cultural and technological changes that have taken place in the last quarter of a century,” said Minister Quinn.

Through their experience of the new Junior Cycle, students should become informed teenagers and citizens, with the confidence and competence to achieve their full potential in our modern society. The new Framework is being phased in over an 8 year period. The intention is to move at a rate commensurate with the capacity of the system to change.

The Minister concluded, “Teachers and management bodies are key to ensuring the changes that are long overdue at Junior Cycle are introduced. This Working Group will ensure that all voices continue to be heard. From the start I have said that this process of change will be careful rather than quick, and the Working Group represents another milestone on the road to successful reform.”