Cork teacher against Leaving Cert reform as current ‘fair’ structure

A CORK Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) member has said the current Leaving Certificate grading structure must be ‘maintained’, expressing opposition to Department for Education plans which would see teachers score 40 per cent of students’ final grades as part of a Leaving Cert reform.

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) and the TUI have passed motions opposing the Leaving Cert reforms at their respective conferences in recent days.

Laura O’Sullivan, who teaches at Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí and is a member of the TUI County Cork branch, said the current Leaving Cert structure is “fair”.

“The Leaving Cert has always been fair. I think there is a real need for us to maintain it and bring in more project work like the 20% allocated to History and Geography projects for the Leaving Cert. However, the teacher cannot be the person grading it because you must be [an] stand up for your students,” she said.

“There was no explanation of how Minister Foley was going to protect teachers if we grade our own students’ work,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

Cost of life

Another big issue at teacher union conferences was inflation and the rising cost of living.

“The increase in the cost of living has an impact on everyone. It’s time for everyone to start making some noise about it, not just the teachers. He needs people from the private sector, otherwise things will not be resolved.

“We have teachers traveling to our secondary school from Kerry and North Cork, and they have seen a massive increase in the price of their journey to school. They see a big expense on a weekly basis. They might also have children and a mortgage and other expenses,” she added.

Resources

David Keohane, branch secretary of the Skibbereen Irish National Teachers Organization, said additional resources for national schools was a big topic at their convention. “Covid changed everything because it ensured more money was made available to schools. We want a continuation of more resources for National Schools nationwide,” he said.

Mr Keohane said recruiting more teachers to support Ukrainian students and the cost of living also figured prominently at their annual conference.

Minister Foley said teachers have nothing to worry about when it comes to the assessment offered by teachers for state certification.

“A teacher-based assessment will be highly moderated by the State Examination Board and final grades will be awarded by the SEC. Teachers will be at the heart of the engagement. I am committed to working in collaboration with everyone in the best interest of the students.

Ida M. Morgan