The ASTI is currently engaging in industrial action over Junior Cycle reform. The ASTI is insisting that the Union's outstanding issues are addressed in the interests of standards, quality, equity and fairness for all students.
Background to Junior Cycle dispute
In a ballot of ASTI members in September 2015, members voted to reject the document entitled “Junior Cycle Reform – Joint Statement on Principles and Implementation (including the appendix)” by 55% to 45%.
Members also voted to continue industrial action up to and including strike action by 70% to 30%.
In a parallel ballot, members of the TUI voted to accept the Junior Cycle Reform proposals.
On September 25th, 2015, ASTI Standing Committee re-issued the Junior Cycle Framework Directive to Members. This Directive prohibits ASTI members from engaging with aspects of the implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle, including attendance at CPD for the Framework and participation in any aspect of Classroom Based Assessment.
Consultation with Members
In November 2015 the ASTI undertook a consultation with members on the Junior Cycle Reform proposals in order to identify the reasons why members rejected them.
Following this consultation, ASTI representatives met with the Department of Education and Skills and relayed the outstanding concerns of ASTI members. These included:
• increased workload/ pressure on teachers
• the impact of the proposals on teaching time
• the feasibility of timetabling Junior Cycle Framework meetings, i.e. SLAR meetings
• concern about whether 200 hours is adequate time for subjects
• the lack of ordinary and higher level options for most subjects
• the lack of examination conditions for the Assessment Task process
• the absence of State certified oral exams in Irish and other modern European languages
• the impact of the Classroom Based Assessment on teaching and learning time
• the lack of clarity in relation to the proposed new subject area “wellbeing”.
Clarifications on these issues were included in the document 'Outcome of Talks' which was out to a ballot of ASTI members in January 2017. ASTI members rejected the 'Outcome of Talks' by 52.5% to 47.5% .
The ASTI Directive remains in place. The ASTI continues to seek a resolution to the outstanding issues.
The English specification contains three strands – Oral Language, Reading and Writing. ASTI members are required to teach the new specification. In this regard, they are required to teach the Oral Language as part of the specification.Students demonstrate their achievement in this strand by providing a maximum of 3-minutes presentation – as individuals or as a group to their class on a theme of their choice.
The ASTI Junior Cycle directive does not prohibit teachers from facilitating such student presentations as part of mainstream classroom activity. What is does prohibit is the awarding of the descriptors - Exceptional, Above Expectations, In-line with Expectations, Yet to meet Expectations - to such presentations as part of Classroom Based Assessment 1 and the recording and reporting of such descriptors in the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement.
Similarly, the specification requires that students engage in a Collection of Texts as part of the Reading strand. The ASTI Directive does not prohibit teachers from facilitating students in creating a Collection of Texts as part of mainstream classroom activity. Rather, it prohibits the awarding of the descriptors - Exceptional, Above Expectations, In-line with Expectations, Yet to meet Expectations - to students’ texts as part of Classroom Based Assessment 2 and the recording and reporting of such descriptors in the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement.
The ASTI Directive prohibits ASTI members from engaging in CBA based on policy adopted at Convention 2016 wherein ASTI members are not to assess their students for school certification – the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement. The Assessment Task is to take place from Monday 5th to Friday 9th December. The Task is in the form of an SEC booklet which, when completed, would be collected by the teacher and safely stored until the June English examination. Section 2.14 of the March 24/16 Circular states that “Students must complete their second CBA in order to undertake the associated Assessment Task” . As ASTI members are not engaging in CBAs, students cannot undertake this Task if taught by ASTI members.
Use of Sample Exams Papers
The State Exams Commission has recently published sample exam papers regarding the proposed SEC external exam for Junior Cycle English. Teachers of English may use this material as part of their teaching as it is not prohibited by the ASTI Directive.
Since September 2015, teachers of English have been enabling students to assemble their Collection of Texts (Portfolio). The creation of such work by the student is an intrinsic part of the English specification. Work in this regard is not prohibited by the directive. However, the ASTI directive does prohibit members from engaging in Classroom Based Assessments (CBAs) for the purposes of the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement.
- Click here for ASTI Directive to Members September 2015.
- Click here for Junior Cycle Reform: Joint Statement on Principles and Implementation and Appendix to Joint Statement.
- Click here for Framework for Junior Cycle 2015.
- Click here for Department of Education clarifications to ASTI, December 2015.
- For further information contact info (at) asti.ie.