Ó Ríordáin: Exam marking controversy a 'crisis of the Governments own making'

Update 4.40pm: Labour spokesperson on Education, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said that the current controversy regarding examination marking is a crisis of the governments own making.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:“The failure to deal with the teacher supply issue is linked with pay inequality in staff rooms which the government has failed to address.

“Every week, I meet teachers at doors in Dublin Bay North who are fearful for the future of their profession.

“There is only one solution to the current empasse - pay teachers adequately to mark the exams.

“The stakes are far too high for the students of Ireland for this to be allowed to continue.”

Earlier: Teachers groups are angry that State exams will be corrected this summer by people without teaching qualifications.

They are being hired by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) because of a shortage of qualified staff.

Pay rates are being blamed for the lack of interest.

Correctors get between €5 and €32 per paper.

The SEC says all examiners correcting Junior Cert and Leaving Cert papers are appropriately qualified.

The SEC says it has an absolute responsibility to students to ensure that their work is "marked to the highest standards of quality and integrity".

Deputy General Secretary of the ASTI, Diarmaid de Paor, is critical but not surprised.

"I don't this anybody would say that it was a good move," he said.

"I don't think the State Examinations Commission would say that it was a good move. I think they'd say it was a move they felt themselves compelled to do.

"I think it's a very worrying development, but I also have to say it's not a surprising development.

We've been pointing out that examiners are overworked and underpaid.

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) said "concrete proposals" must be developed to address the issue.

"The ongoing shortage of teachers is one of the main reasons why the SEC are now forced to employ non-teachers to mark this year’s exam papers," said Clive Byrne, Director of the NAPD.

"All in the sector are in agreement that qualified teachers are always the best and preferred people to mark these exams.

"Resolving this shortage to ensure that we can meet this shared objective must now be the priority. Ensuring that we provide teachers with the necessary educational and financial supports to ensure that marking papers remains sufficiently attractive to entice teachers to carry out this important task is also essential.

We cannot lose sight of our students to whom having a qualified and engaged teacher pool to mark these exams matters most.

"With this year’s exam marking now underway, the SEC are continuing to manage this issue in a sensible and pragmatic way for this year.

"However, all stakeholders now need to come together to develop concrete proposals to ensure that this issue does not impact on the Class of 2019."

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