What professional time is available to me as a Junior Cycle teacher?
There are a number of categories of professional time available to schools and teachers:
Time for whole-school activities
Time for whole-school professional activities to support the Junior Cycle is available to all schools and must take place within the 167 days. This time does not form part of an individual teacher’s professional time (see below). In the 2017/18 and 2018/19 school years, whole-school professional activities time amounts to two days as follows:
Day 1: for whole-school planning and school self-evaluation
Day 2: to facilitate CPD activities, including subject-specific CPD, being delivered on the Junior Cycle for teachers, using the school cluster model.
Individual teacher professional time
Professional time for individual teachers of Junior Cycle students is available in the form of 22 hours per school year. It is based on 40 minutes per week, which means that full-time teachers can be timetabled for a maximum of 21 hours and 20 minutes per week. It includes time to attend Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings. Teachers can also use the time to carry out work associated with teaching requirements under the Framework for Junior Cycle, such as professional collaboration on feedback and reporting activities. Part-time teachers receive individual teacher professional time on a pro-rata basis. Teachers’ autonomy with regard to the 22 hours' professional time should be respected. The Department of Education and Skills (DES) has stated the following: Within the provision of 22 hours' professional time for the full-time teacher, there is a requirement to allocate two hours for Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings each year for every Junior Cycle subject. All periods of professional time provided to support the implementation of the Junior Cycle must be used for this purpose under the overall direction of the school’s management. In this context, school management should ensure that decisions made at whole-school level regarding priorities for the use of this professional time do not erode the professional autonomy of teachers but rather respect this professional autonomy.
Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings
This time must be taken as part of the 22 hours' individual teacher professional time (see individual teacher professional time). A Subject Learning and Assessment Review meeting takes place after the second year and third year classroom-based assessment. This means that a teacher of two subjects to second and third year students will attend four meetings of approximately two hours, amounting to eight hours of professional time per school year. Since professional collaboration meetings can only be held when the relevant subject teachers can be present, a limited number of meetings may need to draw on teachers’ bundled time to run beyond normal school tuition hours for some of the duration of the meeting.
Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings co-ordinator time
An additional two hours will be allocated to one teacher of each subject (on a rotational basis) to facilitate preparation for and co-ordination of each Subject Learning and Assessment Review meeting. These additional two hours will be facilitated by the provision of additional paid substitution hours to the school.
Assessment Task administration time
The Assessment Task will be administered to students during class time. The whole-school administration of Assessment Tasks will be resourced through an allocation of additional hours to the school’s management.
Arrangements for whole-school time, individual professional time, and administrative/co-ordination time are set out in Circulars 15/2017 and 29/2017.
Should my 22 hours of individual professional time appear in my class contact timetable?
No. However, your class-contact timetable must reflect the reduction in maximum class contact time from 22 hours to 21 hours and 20 minutes per week.
Should Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings be scheduled into the school calendar?
Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings can be scheduled into the school calendar, as they will involve all of the teachers of a Junior Cycle subject in the school.
Should Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings take place inside school time?
Yes. Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings must take place within school time. Since such meetings can only take place when the relevant subject teachers are present, a limited number of meetings may need to draw on teachers’ bundled time to run beyond the normal school tuition hours for some duration of the meetings. A Subject Learning and Assessment Review meeting should not exceed two hours.
In November 2019, the ASTI conducted a ballot of members on the scheduling of Subject Learning and Assessment Review (SLAR) meetings. ASTI members voted by 93% to 7% in favour of authorising Standing Committee to issue the following directive to members:
In the context of section 9.7 of the Appendix to Joint Statement on Principles and Implementation on Junior Cycle Reform, ASTI members are hereby directed to only attend Subject Learning and Assessment Review (SLAR) meetings on the basis that they must be scheduled to start and end within normal school tuition hours, and only a limited number may run beyond school tuition hours for some of the duration of the meeting. Notes: This ASTI Directive takes effect from January 6, 2020.
I teach SPHE, which is now part of the Wellbeing Programme. Am I entitled to the 22 hours' professional time?
Yes, all teachers involved in all subject areas of the Junior Cycle are entitled to the 22 hours' professional time from the beginning of the 2017 school year.
Do classroom-based assessments replace in-house exams at second and third year?
Yes. The classroom-based assessments are intended to replace the in-house exams at the end of second year and at Christmas in third year. Obviously, given the phased rollout of subjects, some subjects will continue to have in-house exams until the new subject specification is introduced.
Is the ASTI directive on Junior Certificate optional oral exams still in force for the 2017/18 school year?
Subsequent to the Special ASTI Convention held on June 10, ASTI industrial action was suspended. Therefore, the ASTI directive relating to Junior Certificate optional oral exams is currently suspended. It should be noted that Junior Cert oral exams remain optional.
The rationale for the ASTI directive issued in August 2016 (and suspended in June 2017) is as follows: Oral examinations require a structure that ensures quality control and standards: one that commands public credibility in its objectivity. In this regard, school-level ‘ad-hoc’ arrangements for oral examinations for the Junior Certificate are unacceptable. It is the ASTI view that oral exams for State certification require an independent, standardised, externally assessed arrangement. Oral examinations should be organised and conducted by the State Examinations Commission.