Teachers union president slams Norma Foley over new Leaving Cert proposals
"For all your years in the classroom, we fear Minister that your reflections over those nine months with the report were not informed by actions and realities on the ground."
The President of Teachers Union Ireland (TUI) has slammed Norma Foley over new proposals for the Leaving Cert.
Martin Marjoram responded to the Minister for Education's proposals on Wednesday (20 April).
"In what is now described in the press as an interim measure, Paper 1 in Irish and English will move to the end of fifth year while two new subjects are to be introduced out of the blue as far as the NCCA and other stakeholders are concerned," Marjoram said.
"Minister, though well-intentioned, the potential impacts of such change need the scrutiny and consideration of the dedicated statutory body before they are announced, not after.
"The very announcement of such change is a hugely significant action on which no-one in the profession had any opportunity for reflection at all – on the impact of the new subjects on existing ones, the pedagogical soundness of the new Paper 1 timings, or on whether those timings might increase instead of reduce pressure."
Marjoram said that the manner and timing of the announcement may have been designed to provoke opposition from teachers.
"For all your years in the classroom, we fear Minister that your reflections over those nine months with the report were not informed by actions and realities on the ground, and particularly with regard to the announcement of so-called teacher-based assessment, for an all-too-familiar sounding 40% for those who came through the Junior Cycle dispute."
Marjoram said that teacher-based assessment had been included in recommendations from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) or was subject to prior consultation.
"When your predecessor went against NCCA advice, then Minister Joe McHugh said, 'I made history compulsory so that future generations can learn how to avoid the mistakes of our past.'
"If only your Department could learn to avoid the mistakes of the past, Minister."
Marjoram said that TUI was completely opposed to teachers marking students for state examinations, saying that a change in state examinations could lead to children leaving school before the Leaving Cert.
"There are indeed “learnings” from Calculated and Accredited grades, Minister – don’t go there unless you absolutely must."
Marjoram warned that the "introduction of permanent change along the lines so unceremoniously announced carries enormous and unnecessary risk."
"No Minister, we urge you in the strongest terms, direct your and your Department’s energies elsewhere – do not ask us to co-design, co-construct, co-author, co-concoct or co-half-bake that which is anathema to us and which will not work.
"By all means pursue the excellent recommendations of the NCCA. By all means provide the resources which will make them work. By all means, proceed with what may be the most important reform, which is of the CAO system where much of the dissatisfaction directed at the Leaving Certificate properly belongs.
"Avoid the mistakes of the past, Minister, turn away from what would be a needless dispute and leave teachers to teach and examiners to examine – on that basis you will find us constructive partners in building a better education system together."