25 November 2014 - Statement by Jan O'Sullivan, TD Minister for Education and Skills


Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O'Sullivan, TD, today called on the second-level teacher unions to cancel their planned strike which is due to take place a week from today.
According to the Minister, "There is now a fair and reasonable offer on the table in relation to Junior Cycle reform. I have moved a significant distance to address the legitimate concerns of education partners while still maintaining the integrity of Junior Cycle reform.

"I welcome the support from the National Parents Council (post primary), the Irish Second-Level Students Union and various management bodies for my initiative. In contrast, both second-level unions have chosen to dismiss this significant offer and instead opt for strike. "With good will on both sides, the new framework for Junior Cycle can form the basis for an agreement that brings about much needed reform. I have demonstrated the willingness to compromise to bring about an agreement, unfortunately to date the union side has steadfastly failed to move.
"Strike action that disrupts students and inconveniences parents is not warranted. I would urge the second-level unions to cancel the planned strike action and re-engage in meaningful talks on the basis of the framework I put forward. Negotiation will resolve this issue, but negotiation involves movement from both sides."

The new framework for Junior Cycle reform put forward by the Minister includes the following elements:

  • 60% of marks in the junior cycle should be allocated on the basis of an exam at the end of third year. This will continue to be set and marked by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) for all subjects.
  • The remaining 40% of marks will be allocated for school-based work, such as portfolios or projects. This work will be marked by the class teacher. Teachers within each school will meet to discuss and compare how they are marking to ensure consistency in the marks awarded.
  • In addition, the SEC will have monitor the marking of the school-based work to further ensure consistence and fairness.

The Minister concluded, "School-based assessment is an important element of reform. Unlike an externally marked exam or assessment it can capture the full picture of a student's contribution and progression over a period of time. School-based assessment also enhances the feedback between students and teachers and can significantly improve the learning experience. Having a blended mix of externally assessed exams and school-based assessment will be a positive development for schools. I would urge both unions to reconsider their position and re-engage in talks rather than proceeding with a strike that serves no-one's interests."