Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (199)

Maureen O'Sullivan


199. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that in rolling out the new English junior cycle course in 2014-15, teachers are finding the in-service training days inadequate and lacking in training on specifics such as syllabus content and assessment criteria and procedures; his views on whether there are sufficient in-service training days to allow for the appropriate introduction of the English junior cycle course and other junior cycle courses in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4862/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

English teachers will receive a minimum of 4.5 days of continuing professional development (CPD) in relation to the new English junior cycle specification. I consider this to be a sufficient number of training days. The CPD for English is part of a much wider and comprehensive system of support for the implementation of A Framework for Junior Cycle in schools and English teachers will also have opportunities to attend further events in generic areas and/or particular areas of interest.

Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) is the team charged with providing CPD. JCT began the provision of in-service training for English teachers earlier in this school year, with the provision of one full day workshop. I have also allocated time for English teachers to engage further with the new subject specification back at school, for which resource materials have been provided. Similar provision will be made for English teachers' CPD in both 2014/15 and 2015/16. In addition, JCT advisors will become available for school visits in order to focus on specific areas that the school in question wishes to address.

In relation to specifics about syllabus content and assessment, as is to be expected, teachers currently attending in-service are raising a number of queries and issues. These are being addressed by the JCT advisors on the ground, and where necessary, further issues for clarification are collated and forwarded on to my Department and/or the NCCA. It is to be welcomed that teachers are anxious for more in-depth information, but we must also recognise that we are just at the start of a long-term programme of implementation. In line with the new specification, the first in-school assessment event is not scheduled to take place until late in the 2015/16 school year. CPD for English teachers will deal in detail with assessment well in advance of that date.