Wednesday 18 October 2017

Unions drop plans for another one-day strike over new Junior Certificate

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan

Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor

Teacher unions have set a range of pre-conditions in return for their ongoing participation in discussions on the introduction of a new-style Junior Certificate.

The unions have dropped plans for another one day strike in coming weeks but will continue other forms of industrial action, such as the ban on teacher training linked to the junior cycle reforms.

Crucially, they have not conceded on the controversial issue of assessing their own students as part of the proposed new arrangements.

Their conditions also include  the deferral  of any  assessment of students in the new English syllabus, which is due to start in 2015/2016 academic year for students who are in second year.

The unions delivered their responses shortly after 2 a.m. today after meetings of their executive bodies that had gone on since 10a.m. yesterday.

They were up against a deadline to accept or reject the proposals issued a fortnight ago by Dr Pauric Travers , former president  of St Patrick’s teacher training college, Drumcondra.

But,  it remains to be seen whether   conditions  attached by the Assocation of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) will be acceptable to Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan and Dr Travers.

The unions said they  accepted  that the document produced by Dr. Travers, ”while not representing a comprehensive resolution, represents a basis for further intensive negotiations with a focus on the key issues”.

They listed their “key” issues   including  external assessment of students.   This has been at the heart of their opposition  to change from the start, with a resistance by unions to embrace the proposal that  teachers take on any responsibility for assessing their own students as part of the new-style exam.

They are also seeking confirmation that Civic , Social and Political Education will remain as  a State certified exam, “parity of treatment of subjects” and discussions on resources , time required and workload relating to the changes.

They said that they had “decided not to proceed with a strike day at this time.  However, because of the absence, so far, of meaningful progress on the key issues above, the current directives in relation to the Framework for Junior Cycle remain in place.

The statement added that “having regard to the level and quality of any engagement, the unions will keep their industrial action under review. 

“If there is meaningful progress in relation to the key issues, the unions are prepared to re-visit the issue of non-cooperation.  In such circumstances, the unions would envisage a reciprocal measure by the Department in relation to the assessment timeframe for English”.

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