Jan O'Sullivan: Teachers' unions are only partners blocking reform
Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan has said that "the only partners who are blocking [Junior Cert] reform are the teachers' unions".
Minister O'Sullivan is re-starting training for Junior Cert reform for teachers of English, despite a ban by the Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) on member participation in training seminars.
"I think this is a fair and balanced proposal - it is very different for the intial proposal," she told 'Saturday with Claire Byrne'.
"We've long needed this reform, I believe we do need to move forward. I hope the teachers will engage."
When asked by presenter Claire Byrne whether issues of pay were involved in the current talks, the minister said "she didn't know".
TUI's Gerry Craughwell responded to this comment saying: "My blood boils when I hear pay talks being involved in this debate."
Read more: Unions to picket teacher training
"This has never been about pay - it is about education alone. The [new Junior Cert program] is not at all suitable. We need to talk about resources, we need to talk about time."
"The Minister really needs to step back from where she is right now. Teachers are willing to engage but we need to resolve the final few strands that need to be resolved."
Training is due to start in mid-April and, in a change from traditional practice, principals have been asked to issue invitations to named teachers.
A new letter from the unions, to teachers of English and principals, advises that the existing directive gives protection under the Industrial Relations Act and that they "must decline the invitation".
Unions say they will picket the seminars.