Teachers to picket every second-level school again
TEACHERS will picket every second-level school in the country again on Thursday, May 7.
They are planning another lunchtime protest over moves to introduce a new-style Junior Cert.
The timing of the action means that it is not intended to disrupt classes for the almost 350,000 post-primary pupils.
It is being organised by the Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) , which represent 27,000 teachers.
The unions’ key objection is to the proposal for teachers to take on some responsibility for assessing their own students, with the traditional June exams retained for 60pc of the marks.
They claim that school-based assessment by students own teachers would change the pupil-teacher relationship and also damage the integrity of the exams.
The original Junior Cert reform plan, dating back to 2012, was to phase out the June exams and replace them with school-based assessment , by students’ own teachers.
Because of union resistance to that, last autumn, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan offered a 60-40 split between June exams and school assessment , which was rejected.
Further compromises were offered in February in a document drawn up my mediator Dr Pauric Travers, former president of St Patrick’s teacher training college, which the union leaderships also rejected.
Ms O’ Sullivan then announced that she was going to move ahead with preparations for further reforms, and the unions said they would continue to resist.
Training sessions for teachers of English resumed last week, but only a handful of teachers have turned up because of union directives banning participation in them.
While the protest on May 7 is the final industrial for the current school year, if the dispute is not resolved , schools could be facing a repeat of strike action from September. Pupils lost two days tuition in the current year because of teacher stoppages.
The unions have come in for some criticism for not balloting their members on the last two offers, which they argue did not go far enough to meet their demands.
In a letter to members this week, union leaders state that the campaign was about protecting the standards and quality of the Irish education system and the key role played by the student /teacher relationship in ensuring this.