Quinn defends abolition of Junior Cert

Credit Wikipedia.com

Credit wikipedia.com

Education minister Ruairí Quinn has once more defended the decision to abolish the current Junior Cert state exam in favour of a new model.

The new model will be focused on internal assessment, and requires teachers to mark papers instead of the exam being externally reviewed.

During a question time in the Daíl, Ruairí Quinn defended the Junior Cycle reform that starts next September by saying that students “Don’t need a state exam, they need progress and moderation” .

Minister Quinn was responding to the results that came in a recent ASTI survey which revealed that 50 schools do not feel equipped enough to roll out reform.

Minister Quinn said “I’m aware of the difficulties faced by teachers, especially in the backdrop of the current public finances… we have started a journey, I take the political responsibility, and where we will travel is open for discussion”. He continued “to have a state exam at 15 has a detrimental effect on a number of people. If changes need to be made, we will make those changes”.

The decision to change the Junior Cycle has come under criticism, especially from the ASTI president Sally Maguire, who said that “every student is entitled to a fair, impartial and transparent state certificate to record their achievement.  A school certificate based on grades awarded by student’s own teachers’ does not have the same status or validity as an independent State Certificate.”

This year’s Junior Cert will be one of the last under the current model which has been in place since 1991.

Gavin Lacey

Is attending a private school a genuine advantage getting into third level?


Credit schooldays.ie

As a response to the annual publication of the Irish Times’ league tables, which found an advantage to attending a fee-paying school, we asked several DIT students their thought on the matter:

Georgia Dunne (Business and French):

“It depends on the individual, whether the school suits them or not. I don’t believe it does make a difference. You get what you give whether you’re in a private school or not.”

Colin O’Donovan (Masters in Marketing):

“I do feel students from private schools have a definite advantage. There’s a private school in my area. People go up an extra one hundred points going there-it’s almost just a series of intense daily grinds. There is nothing wrong with public schools but private schools definitely give an advantage. Public school students can be distracting to each other, private school students tend to be more focused.”

Dónal Murray (Architecture):

“I think in private schools there is less trouble, less anti-social behaviour than what my friends in public schools experienced so that is advantageous. There’s an advantage not in terms of their education but in terms of facilities. You hear horror stories about public schools; there was a stabbing in my friend’s year in a local public school.”

Sean Hannon (Hospitality Management):

“Absolutely-private schools are massive networking opportunities. People who go into certain sectors will keep in touch with, and help each other out. The rugby club in my old school hold an event every year, for instance. Being part of an alumni is seen a business opportunity.”

Michael McManus (Business and Management):

“Yeah I definitely got a good education by going to a private school; I think it really benefited me over all. If push comes to shove I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and use the connections I made there.”

Katie Byrne (Law):

“No I don’t think it made a difference paying for education. If you’re willing to put in the work you will succeed either way.”

Hannah Popham

League tables show further evidence of elitism in education

castleknock college

Credit castleknockcollege.ie

Students from fee-paying schools are still dominating the highest point courses in universities, according to the Irish Times school league tables published today.

Despite data which says that non fee-paying schools accounted for three quarters of the top 100 secondary schools in the 2013 league tables, it is private school students who snap up the most sought after courses.

The league tables also show a major advantage to the affluent south Dublin area, with 25 schools there sending at least 94 per cent of their students to college. The list shows that 17 schools in the top 100 are located in south Dublin – 14 of them fee-paying – while north Dublin boasts only two, Castleknock College and Ard Scoil Rís.

Mary Maguire, deputy principal of Warrenmount National School, Dublin 8, which has 49 per cent foreign national attendance, expressed concern at the elitism within the Irish education system.

“Not many of our students’ families are in a financial position to send their children to fee-paying schools, and even at such a young age they definitely face a disadvantage being forced into state-run schools.”

The research also found that there was an overall increase in university attendance, with school leavers 14% more likely to go to University than the figures from the 2012 league tables.

However, a spokesperson for the Teacher’s Union of Ireland has called the league tables “an exercise in silliness”.

Hannah Popham

UCDSU will continue to support student rights


A campaign has been launched by UCD students to highlight student rights which are currently being violated on the Belfield campus. Students oppose the presence of cameras throughout the residential areas. Officials also hold keys to each apartment and can enter the apartments at any time.

Students believe this is an infringement on basic rights, as these conditions would not be tolerated in other living arrangements, such as private residences.

UCD Residences house over 3,000 students in the separate accommodation locations. The academic year runs from September 2nd until May 19th 2014. Prices range from €4,391 – €8,347 for a fully catered room. The students are required to sign a license to reside; it is this legislation which the students are seeking to renegotiate.

Michael Gallagher, UCDSU President, said: ‘UCDSU is committed to protecting its students’ rights. If this campaign is successful it will ensure that living on campus is affordable, enjoyable and sustainable’.

Katelyn Cook