Capacity issues must be addressed prior to Senior Cycle curriculum change, research finds

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Major curriculum change at Senior Cycle level should not take place until key issues impacting second-level schools are examined and addressed, independent research commissioned by the ASTI has found.

In the context of the ongoing review of the Senior Cycle programme, the ASTI commissioned independent research by Dr Brian Fleming*.

Dr Fleming’s research concludes that significant curriculum change is not appropriate in the near future due to the lack of capacity at school level, uncertainty about the outcomes of the Framework for Junior Cycle, the deterioration in teachers’ working conditions, and other factors.

It also warns against side-lining teachers in the policy making process and recommends a “rigorous independent” evaluation of the Framework for Junior Cycle before considering further curriculum change.

Commenting on the publication of the research today, ASTI President Deirdre Mac Donald said:

“What we have learned from the Framework for Junior Cycle is that marginalising teachers in the policy-making process, while at the same time making them responsible for its successful implementation, is likely to result in significant problems.

“Teachers must be treated as key stakeholders at all stages of education policy development. Their concerns must be listened to and addressed. They are the ones with the professional experience to understand what issues, including implementation issues, may arise.”

The ASTI President called for a comprehensive review of the Framework for Junior Cycle to be undertaken prior to the development of any Senior Cycle change proposals.

“Such a review must include an examination of the increased workload of teachers. The additional work generated by the Framework for Junior Cycle is just one of a wide range of new demands on teachers in recent years. Many teachers are overwhelmed by their workload. This situation is unsustainable and has to change.”

Ms Mac Donald also announced that the ASTI is to begin a comprehensive consultation on Senior Cycle with its 17,000 members nationwide over the coming weeks.

*Dr Brian Fleming retired in 2009 having spent 25 years as Principal of Collinstown Park Community College in Clondalkin, Dublin. In recent years, he has undertaken research into the topic of equality of opportunity in Irish education and received his doctorate from UCD School of Education.