Quinn: Unions cannot be allowed to block junior cycle changes

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has said that he cannot allow teachers' unions to block proposed changes to the Junior Certificate cycle.

Minister Quinn said the two unions - the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) - are trying to take over his job by determining what exams they will run and when.

Speaking in the Dáil this morning he said that the reform of the Junior Cert is no different to the abolition of previous state exams for 12-year-olds.

And he says it is up to elected politicians - and not to unelected teachers - to decide how students will be tested.

"The two unions say they are ultimately opposed to removing the state certification from the Junior Cycle," he said.

"They want it to remain as it is - that is the responsibility of people in this house.

"How we do it, how it is implement is of course open to consultation. And I am still waiting for them to give me what it is they want in writing."

The main opposition relates to the proposed move from students being marked by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) to teachers assessing their own students.

A majority of members of the ASTI and TUI last month voted in favour of industrial action over the proposed reform, which would replace the current Junior Certificate exams with school-marked Junior Cycle Student Awards (JCSAs).

The ASTI and TUI, with a combined membership of 27,000 second-level teachers sent directives to 730 second-level schools saying action is to begin on Monday, April 7.

Members will not take part in professional development or planning activities for JCSA, or the design or teaching of related short courses.

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