Saturday 10 December 2016

One third of Asti teachers defy union ban

Published 18/04/2016 | 02:30

Kieran Christie, general secretary of ASTI
Kieran Christie, general secretary of ASTI

More than 5,000 members of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) are registered for training programmes related to junior cycle reform - despite a union ban on co-operation with change.

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More than 5,000 members of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) are registered for training programmes related to junior cycle reform - despite a union ban on co-operation with change.

The level of sign-up, just under a third of the ASTI's 18,000 members, indicates an appetite within schools to embrace the new approaches to teaching, learning and assessment of students, notwithstanding the union's official stance.

It was up to principals to register the names of teachers for the training being rolled out by the Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) service. It is not known which schools registered staff, but any principal who is a member of the ASTI would have breached the union directive by doing so.

The training is not due to start until September, so it remains to be seen whether individual teachers will take up invitations that will issue to them from JCT, if the ban is still in force.

The ASTI represents teachers in about two-thirds of second-level schools, which now face being left behind if the union continues its opposition.

The ASTI is the sole union representing teachers in the voluntary secondary sector - about 370 schools, generally under the control of the religious or a religious trust. It also has members in the 96 community and comprehensive schools.

The other union representing teachers at second level, the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI), is co-operating with the changes and the reform programme is well under way in their schools.

Shortly, pupils in the one-third of schools where the TUI represents teachers will do the first of the classroom assessments being introduced as part of the new regime. These involve a three-minute oral presentation by each pupil in second-year English classes on a topic of their choice, such as a local GAA team or their favourite poet.

The idea is to nurture skills such as research, presentation and teamwork, which are not captured in a written exam.

At the heart of the junior cycle reform plan is ending the exclusive reliance on a single set of exams to measure student progress by using in-school assessments.

JCT director Dr Padraig Kirk said it had trained 10,000 teachers in recent months.

Irish Independent

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