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JUNIOR CERT AXED; Overhaul will place more emphasis on life skills says minister.

Byline: SARAH BARDON

THE Education Minister yesterday unveiled plans to abolish the Junior Cert and replace it with a radical new programme.

Ruairi Quinn accepted the proposals by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment which will see exams make up just 60% of the final mark.

The new qualification will be called the National Certificate for Junior Cycle Education. From 2014, students will face a series of assessments and can pick up marks for extra curricular activities.

The number of subjects will be capped at eight and the focus will switch from "covering the course" to deeper learning and building key skills for life. Mr Quinn said: "One of the criticisms of our system has been the emphasis on recall rather than real understanding and competence." He welcomed the idea of the cap on subjects but has concerns about how the risk of dumbing down would be avoided, and whether too large a gap could develop between the junior and senior cycles.

A new syllabus system would see subjects examined at a common level, apart common level, apart from Irish, English and maths, where students can opt for Ordinary or Higher level.

The idea is to reward weaker students, while stretching the ability of higher achievers.

NCAA chief Dr Anne Looney said: "It means children now in fourth class in primary school, who will leave postprimary school in 2020, will be the first to access the new qualification."

John Hammond deputy CEO of the NCCA, added history, geography and science will no longer be a requirement for students at Junior Cert level.

MAIN POINTS OF NEW EXAMS

SUBJECTS cut to 200 hours, except Maths, Irish and English with 240 hours.

CAP of subjects that can be taken.

SIX key skills in subjects - Managing Myself, Staying Well, Communications, Being Creative, Working with Others and Managing Information and Thinking.

SUBJECTS will be assessed by means of a written examination set and marked by the State Examinations Commission, and a portfolio marked by the class teacher.

REPORT-card templates will be developed by the NCCA for reporting to parents on a student's progress.

THE subject reforms will begin on a phased basis in 2014 for first examination in 2017.

CHANGES to the English curriculum will be implemented first "in keeping with the priorities in the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy".

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WELCOME 3 Ruairi Quinn
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 4, 2011
Words:393
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