Thursday 29 September 2016

Teachers 'examining neighbours' children' because of cutbacks

Published 01/04/2016 | 02:30

Rebecca Jones from Kildare. Photos: Don MacMonagle
Rebecca Jones from Kildare. Photos: Don MacMonagle

Teachers are being forced to examine their "neighbours' children" because of cutbacks in allowances for examiners and superintendents.

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The Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) has passed a motion calling for a reversal of the cuts in allowances paid to teachers who engage in State Examination Commission (SEC) activities.

The union said that teachers who worked as examiners were being sent to schools closer to home to save money.

The union favours a joint approach with the ASTI on the issue.

The annual congress at Killarney's INEC also called for the TUI to negotiate for an exemption from the new travelling expenses procedure during the summer holidays.

After tax, superintendents and examiners can only expect to take home 37 cent in every euro earned, which they say is not enough of an incentive to take on the responsibility.

Blathaid Ni Mhurchu from the Co Galway branch, who seconded the motion, has been an oral examiner in Irish and French for a number of years but says it's becoming "more hassle than it's worth".

"Allowances now have been reduced so much that it's absolutely frowned upon if you claim overnight expenses," she said.

"As an oral examiner, we used to be given overnight allowances if you were living 50km or more from where you were assigned but now that's gone to 100km."

She said it had now become the "norm" to send teachers to schools much closer to home.

"In my case, I was being sent from Connemara to Donegal or Dublin," she said.

"But in the last year or two, I've been asked to give oral exams in local schools up to 15km away.

"This has caused a massive conflict of interest because I know the teachers and I'm examining, in some cases, past pupils and neighbours' children. It just isn't appropriate."

Ms Ni Mhurchu said when she refused, she was warned she may not be assigned to another school. She added that the allowances she would have received would not even have covered the cost of after-school care for her own children.

Maria Curtin, from the Co Limerick TUI branch, said she had been sent to schools nearer her home over the past eight years and last June was assigned to a school where she herself was a past pupil.

She said the SEC uses her home address as her base when it suits them, or her school address if that's nearer her assigned school.

"They chop and change from one to the other in order to avoid paying me an overnight allowance," she added.

"I'm not saying that we should be making a profit on travelling expenses but we should be paid an acceptable wage for the amount of work undertaken."

Tony Rushe, also from the Co Galway TUI branch, who moved the motion, said he had to seriously consider signing up as a corrector again this year.

"It just reminded me of how much tax and pension reductions we have suffered in the name of austerity.

"If this direction continues it will impact on the quality of the correctors and examiners who present themselves to access your students for State certification," he said.

Irish Independent

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