Fellow INOTE members. Dr. Travers Report Junior Cycle Reform – A Way Forward

Fellow INOTE members.

It was with a heavy heart I read Dr. Travers report Junior Cycle Reform-A Way Forward. My issue is not with the document or the politics of the entire thing but rather these two statements. 1. In those circumstances, the agreement provides that the Minister should delay the implementation of the revised specifications for Science and that the Union groups should suspend their industrial action. 2.In view of the urgency of supporting teachers in implementing the second year English course in the 2015/16 school year, immediate priority will be given to providing CPD for this subject as well as whole-school CPD for Junior Cycle. So, while Science is delayed, English will be given ‘priority’, is this the same level of ‘priority’ we received last year? As a teacher I’m finding the new course difficult at First Year the level of pedagogical change required with insufficient training is simply not good enough. I am a proponent of the Oral Component, in fact I can’t wait to implement it but I want to do it properly. I was on the Development Group for this course and even the NCCA saw the difficulties which we might encounter, here are some of their thoughts, The Oral Communication Task Some practical issues The process of observing and assessing oral communication tasks for an entire class of students is problematic for a number of reasons Time consuming possibly 30×3 mins plus Consequently this could lead to a lot of dead time for students who switch off once their contribution is over On the other hand the student who presents last in a class will have the benefits of learning from the mistakes of their classmates, a possible equity issue. Many students find the prospect of speaking in public very daunting RA issues Working through this practice could be extremely difficult in schools where discipline is challenging Could give rise to bullying or intimidation of students. Suggestion All students record their oral communication task outside the classroom under certain conditions stipulated in the specification for the school based assessment component. This prerecorded presentation is then transferred onto disks or some other agreed format in school. An opportunity could be presented to showcase the best presentation in the year in front of a live audience, with the agreement of participating students. The NCCA listened as we spoke of the intricacies of implementing this Component in a classroom and we thank them for that. Have the JCT addressed all these concerns in their CPD? It is difficult to know but this is where I need your help. So driven to frustration have I found myself that I rang Ann Phelan’s office (Labour TD Carlow, Kilkenny) to request a meeting. I want to address our concerns with Miss Phelan. The questions I need you to help with are, Were you adequately prepared for this year following CPD 2014? Why/Why Not ? What do we need in order to carry out the Oral Component and its assessment? Is there merit in deferring the English Specification? Simple, I hope! If you would like to email me your thoughts at lizziefarrell@hotmail.com, I will present them. I wonder is it a good idea for all English Teachers to get in touch with their local Labour Representatives or email the Minister herself ? I believe firmly that we are being thrown to the wolves, left isolated while other subjects bask in the security that we will iron out the creases. This is not a tirade against reform I am simply requesting adequate time and resources be given to us before we continue to work to progress a much needed over haul of the system. I am very conscious that as Chair of INOTE I am representing many diverse views as such I implore you to answer those questions and allow me represent an organisation who continues to show its commitment and dedication to the future of our students.

Liz Farrell


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