You’d kinda have to have a bit of pity on our Education Minister, Ruairi Quinn. He feels that the teachers of this country don’t want to talk to him. He thinks that we won’t actively engage with him. He says he wants to talk with us. He has further asked that teachers won’t go on a lunchtime protest in March as he doesn’t want to hurt students. (That’s a bit rich coming from the man who took guidance counsellors out of schools)
The teachers aren’t willing to engage?
I don’t think that I can quite agree with that point of view, Minister. You see, you may have forgotten that we have a body in this country called the NCCA. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment oversees the development of curriculum from early childhood up to senior cycle. Now. Up until the minister did a solo run in October 2012 the NCCA had been working in conjunction with the unions and other stakeholders to revise the Junior Cert.
So, for a while, all was rosy in the garden. We had proposals for a new Junior Cert, agreed with the Unions, the NCCA and all under the stewardship of our current minister.
And then, for some unknown reason, he changed his mind in 2012 and ditched the proposals. He is according to the Irish Examiner, unrepentant. In fact, he looks down on teachers so much that he finds it necessary to spell out ‘negotiation’. Basically, he doesn’t want to back down on a pet project and is upset by the fact that teachers don’t agree with a number of the tenets of his project. He wants a consultation around implementation, not a negotiation about what’s appropriate.
The minister claims that he’s happy with “the professional advice” he has received. From whom, may I ask? Not the NCCA who were working with the unions. Is he referring to his advisors? . And, if so, why should their advice rank higher than an organisation such as the NCCA which has been in existence for 30 years? Maybe it’s the fact that if he gets away with it, he can reduce the costs of the State Examinations Commission by removing them from any role of examining the JCSA.
I have serious questions about the professional advice that he took on in 2012, that is at odds with an agreed programme from 2011. A good comparison between the two can be found here. But a quick summary of teachers’ objections are: The new programme isn’t externally moderated, there is still a subject overload, who designs & accredits short courses? Another issue is this; what’s to prevent a JCSA award from a posh Dublin school carrying more weight than a JCSA award from a school in a disadvantaged area? The minister’s plan will re-enforce disadvantage in education.
And by the way, the advisors? Well, go to The Journal.ie, for a full name list.