'Junior Cycle Student Award' to replace Junior Cert

Wednesday 15 January 2014 21.36
Third-year students will soon be sitting the Junior Cycle Student Award
Third-year students will soon be sitting the Junior Cycle Student Award

The new qualification that will replace the current Junior Certificate exam will be known as the Junior Cycle Student Award.

The Department of Education made the announcement this morning.

Reform of the junior cycle, which is due to be phased-in from next September, has caused controversy and raised concerns among teachers.

A working group aimed at addressing some of those concerns will meet for the first time this Friday.

It was convened by the Department of Education and will be attended by union representatives and school managers.

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said: "The overhaul of junior cycle is long overdue and much-needed.

"The new JCSA will put students, rather than exams, at the centre of the three-year cycle.

"Most parents and teachers that I meet are supportive of the need to overhaul junior cycle – for the good of students.

"However, I do acknowledge that many teachers have legitimate concerns about how these new changes will be introduced in schools."

Mr Quinn said the syllabus will be slightly different but by and large much the same containing poems, plays and essay writing.

However, he said that when the students sit their exam in June 2017, 60% of their marks will attributed to that exam and the remaining 40% will be based on project work done under supervision in parts of their second and third years of the secondary school cycle.

Meanwhile, the Teachers' Union of Ireland reiterated what it calls "grave concerns" over the implementation of a revised junior cycle programme.

It also restated its intention to ballot members on non-cooperation with the new programme if its concerns are not addressed at this Friday's meeting.

TUI concerns include the capacity of schools to provide the programme after cutbacks in recent years.

The union says it is also concerned about the integrity and validity of proposed assessment methods, including the absence of an appropriate form of national certification of student attainment.