January 22, 2015

Mums will be supporting teachers during today’s strike

As the Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) announce plans to strike for a second time,, Ireland’s largest community of mums provides an insight into how mum’s feel about the strike action which is adversely affecting student’s preparations for Junior and Leaving Cert mock examinations.

The findings of MummyPages research includes:

• 73% of mums support the teachers in their strike.
• Out of the 27% who don’t support the teachers strike action, 50% support their cause but just wish strike action could have been averted.
• 33% of mums report that the strike action will disrupt their family’s life
• 77% of mums think the Junior Cert curriculum should be reformed to include continuous assessment as well as exams.

Although the second teachers strike will cause disruption to a third of all families with secondary school students, MummyPages can reveal that the most mums fully support the teachers’ cause.

The fallout occurred earlier this year when the Department of Education announced that the current Junior Cert programme will be phased out over the next eight years, and replaced by a school-based model of continuous assessment. Under the new reforms, 40% of examination marks will be based on coursework, and 60% on a final written exam, which will be administered and corrected by the students’ teachers.

Last August, 88% of teachers in the ASTI and TUI teachers’ unions voted for industrial action to redress issues in the planning and roll-out of this reform; however it appears that no meaningful engagement has taken place on the plans between the unions and Minister Jan O’Sullivan.

Commenting on the research is Laura Haugh, Mum-in-Residence for MummyPages:

“Most parents and teachers would argue that the best feature of the Irish examination system is the complete anonymity and fairness of the marking system, where nobody could be accused of influencing the grade obtained.”

“If teachers were to mark their own students’ work, this leaves them open to the possibility of accusations of bias or unfairness – from a weak teacher who might be tempted to inflate grades to disguise their less than engaged students to the teacher who could be accused of rewarding their favourites. Of course, this becomes an even bigger issue in rural schools where teachers could be related to their students, know their parents exceptionally well or even be next-door neighbours.“

“Equally, the majority of secondary school teachers agree in principle that the Junior Cert examination system needs to be overhauled, but they are worried that while teachers will be absolutely fair and conscientious, the relationship between teachers and students is critical and they believe this may be affected by the changes planned.”

“In addition, the standardisation of exams and the external exam marking that is currently in place across the country is very effective for measuring the progress of students and has both public confidence and that of its students.”

Commenting on the strike action, Liz Crummey, Secondary School Teacher at St. Raphaela’s Secondary School, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin:

“The real nugget of our complaint with the Department of Education is that the reform in the Junior Cert marking system will remove fairness and equality for all students.”

“The current Junior Cert curriculum might not be perfect but at least there is transparency in its operation. It wasn’t too long ago that brown envelopes were being passed between professional people to influence planning and zoning decisions for property; what is to say that the same couldn’t happen with the suggested reforms and teachers.”

“As a teacher and as a mother of a teenager who has had some difficulty during his school life, I am thankful that when he sat his Junior Cert he was just a number and that no personal influences by his teachers could come into play. Teenagers are difficult to parent and also to control in the classroom, if they have been disruptive in class throughout the year it would be hard for even the most professional teacher not to let that influence their marking, even on a subconscious level.”