The Department, in consultation with me, established an education partners consultative group to provide all the education stakeholders with a formal medium for assisting in the planning of the phased implementation of the new junior cycle. This group first met on Thursday, 27 September 2012. Subsequent meetings were held on the day of the framework launch on 4 October 2012 and on 28 November of that year, on 22 January 2013, on 26 February 2013, on 26 March 2013 and on 26 June 2013. In addition, bilateral meetings have been held between union representatives and senior departmental officials since the autumn of 2013.
The first meeting of the national working group on junior cycle reform took place on Friday, 17 January 2014. Three subgroups have been established to address continuing professional development, assessment and school resources. There was a meeting of the subgroup on resources on 24 January 2014, and further meetings of the subgroups on assessment and on CPD were held on 30 January 2014. Findings from the subgroups were reported back to the national working group on 7 February. Last Friday the CPD subgroup met for a second time. The other two subgroups will meet on Monday, 3 March, with the working group meeting on 7 March. During the entire period in question, there were also regular meetings of stakeholders through the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment structures, including the junior cycle board and the council.
I personally attended the following seven meetings with TUI representatives: a deputation from the TUI on 8 December 2011; a deputation from the TUI on 2 April 2012; the TUI annual conference on 11 April 2012; Gerry Craughwell, president of the TUI, on 3 December 2012; John McGabhann, general secretary of the TUI, and Gerry Craughwell, president, on 31 January 2013; John McGabhann, general secretary, Gerry Craughwell, president, Gerry Quinn, vice president, and Annette Dolan, deputy general secretary, on 21 March 2013; and at the TUI annual congress on 3 April 2013 in the Clayton Hotel in Galway.
In addition, I personally attended the following five meetings with ASTI representatives: a deputation from the ASTI on 2 April 2012; the ASTI annual conference on 10 April; Gerry Breslin, president of the ASTI, on 12 December 2012; Pat King, general secretary, Gerry Breslin, president, Diarmuid de Paor, deputy general secretary, and Sally Maguire, vice president, on 21 March; and the ASTI conference on 2 April 2013. I also met the TUI and the ASTI representatives at the meeting that was held on the morning of the junior cycle framework launch.
I have been fully briefed on the interactions between officials and other education stakeholders in relation to planning for the introduction of the framework for the junior cycle. The pace of change of the proposed introduction of the new cycle has been slowed. Next September, junior cycle English will be implemented, followed by science in 2015 and Irish and business studies in 2016.
I went beyond the original assessment proposals of the NCCA. Unless assessment changes, nothing else will. To address concerns highlighted by the partners, I have agreed to look at external supports for moderation of school-based assessment. I have asked that a report be provided to me by mid-May on the findings of the working group.