‘Teachers are already doing a great job, but they are often hamstrung by pressure to teach to the test’ (Ruairi Quinn, Minister for Education and Skills on the announcement of major reform of Junior Certificate 4th October 2012) Critically discuss this statement in relation to the historical development of assessment and its relationship to the present…
The National Board was ‘to look with peculiar favour’ on applicants for aid for schools jointly managed by Roman Catholics and Protestants. While many of the schools which were taken into connection with the Board in the early years were jointly managed, the main Christian churches put pressure on the government to allow aid to be given to schools under the management of individual churches.1 This pressure was so effective that, by the mid-nineteenth century, only 4% of national schools were under mixed management.2 In terms of the curriculum, the main principle was that schools should offer ‘combined moral and literary instruction’.3 While the Board would decide the curriculum for moral and literary instruction, the patron of each school would determine the form and content of religious instruction in the schools under his patronage. The Rules for National Schools to the present day set down that ‘no pupil shall receive or be present at any religious instruction of which his parents or guardians do not approve’4 and also ‘that the periods of formal religious instruction shall be fixed so as to facilitate the withdrawal of [such] pupils’.5 This means that the National System had its ultimate goal to help accommodate children of different religions. That is why, the Christian dominate churches had to enforce the other dominations to be ready to accommodate children of mixed religions. This was pushed about by the Christian churches until it came to pass with management being of mixed creed. In an article presented by Thomas Walsh regarding the children’s curriculum in the primary schools between 1900 and 1999, he describes the conceptualization of the childhood education as a process that is undergoing and it takes time to be implemented fully. In an announcement by Ruairi Quinn, Minister for Education and Skills, on the junior certificate reforms, he commented that, “We already know that significant numbers of first years do not make progress in English and Maths – the key building blocks of learning.” He added that, “Too many students ‘switch off’ in second year and never reconnect to learning. We know that the experience of third year students is dominated by preparations for the Junior Certificate exams where the focus narrows to the performance in the examination rather than the quality of the learning. It is high time we changed this – for the good of our students and our teachers.” In this statement, Ruairi conforms that the numbers of children who do not make it in the key subjects in Ireland are quite alarming. As a result the outcome is that a lot of students lack the essential skills to upgrade them and that is why they never relate to knowing that learning is essential. When it comes to the final continuous assessment tests, what comes up is that what teachers focus on is more of the students passing their tests rather that knowing what they are being taught, this adds up to the quality of education is more understated. The accounting feature is that the teachers during their teaching time in class they focused on spoon-feeding the students what is likely to come in the exams, thus they are more exam oriented that quality oriented. Ruairi stressed in the fact that this is a trend that ought to change for better future of Irish ...
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