I set up a National Working Group for Junior Cycle last January, as a forum to proactively address identified challenges and opportunities as they arise over the phased implementation time schedule for the Junior Cycle. My officials, through this National Working Group, have engaged in meaningful discussions with the education stakeholders, including the secondary schools teachers unions. Three sub-groups have been established to consider the following issues - Workload and implementation issues for schools and teachers; quality assurance and support for teacher assessment; and the continuing professional development required to support teachers and school leaders to implement the Junior Cycle. In all, there have been 12 meetings:
- National Working Group – this group met on 17 January, 7 February and 7 March
- Workload and Implementation Issues for Schools and Teachers – this sub-group met on 24 January, 3 March and 14 April
- Quality Assurance and Support for Teacher Assessment – this sub-group met on 30 January, 3 March and 14 April
- CPD – this sub-group met on 30 January, 21 February and 21 March.
While school management bodies and others have made written submissions to the Group, the teacher unions have yet to do so but my officials are always available to speak to them.