A CORK Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) member has said the current Leaving Certificate marking structure needs to be ‘maintained’’, voicing opposition to plans from the Department of Education that would see teachers mark 40% of students’ final grades as part of a Leaving Cert reform.
The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) and the TUI passed motions opposing the Leaving Cert reforms at their respective conferences in recent days.
Laura O’Sullivan who teaches in Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí and is a member of the TUI Cork County branch said the current structure of the Leaving Cert 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 for history and geography projects for the Leaving Cert. However, the teacher cannot be the person marking it as you have to be [an] advocate for your students,” she said.
“There was no explanation about how Minister Foley is going to safeguard teachers if we are marking our own students’ work,” said Ms O’Sullivan.
Another big issue at teachers’ union conferences was inflation and the increased cost of living.
“The increased cost of living is impacting everybody. It is time that everybody started making a bit of noise about it, not just teachers. It needs people in the private sector as otherwise things will not be dealt with.
“We have teachers travelling to our secondary school from Kerry and from North Cork, and they have seen a massive increase in the price of their journey to school. They are seeing a big outlay on a weekly basis. They might also have kids and a mortgage as well as other expenses,” she added.
David Keohane, secretary of the Skibbereen Irish National Teachers Organisation branch, said further resources for national schools was a big topic at their congress. “Covid changed everything as 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 the recruitment of more teachers to support Ukrainian students and the cost of living also featured prominently at their annual conference.
Minister Foley said teachers have nothing to fear with regards to the proposed teacher-based assessment for State certification.
“A teacher-based assessment will be very much moderated by the State Examination Commission and the final grades will be awarded by the SEC. Teachers will be very much at the heart of the engagement. I am committed to working cooperatively with everyone in the best interest of the students.”