Sunday 23 November 2014

Union chiefs shoot down Junior Cycle 'strike' bid

Ralph Riegel and Katherine Donnelly

Published 25/04/2014 | 02:30

ASTI president Sally Maguire pictured with Pat King of ASTI, James Kelly  and Gearoidin O'Dwyer both of Newpark Blackrock  and John MacGabhiann of TUI during the protest. Picture: Frank Mc Grath
ASTI president Sally Maguire pictured with Pat King of ASTI, James Kelly and Gearoidin O'Dwyer both of Newpark Blackrock and John MacGabhiann of TUI during the protest. Picture: Frank Mc Grath
ASTI president Sally Maguire
Teachers Marian O'Neill, left, and Ciara Kinsella at the ASTI conference in Wexford
TUI
ASTI

An attempt to cause further disruption to the new Junior Cycle programme in September by banning the teaching of English has failed.

A move by a delegate was made at the annual conference of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), which would have resulted in an effective strike by teachers of English.

But it was shot down on the advice of the union leadership.

ASTI president Sally Maguire and general secretary Pat King said such a stance had already been dealt with by the union's central executive committee (CEC).

Not teaching the new English syllabus would represent a breach of contract by teachers and would require a ballot, but the CEC decided against including such an option on the recent ballot paper, where members voted on a range of other forms of industrial action.

The two second-level teacher unions have banned co-operation with key aspects of the Junior Cycle reform – but both have decided to let teaching of the new English syllabus go ahead.

This is because the Education Minister has the authority to set the curriculum and the new syllabus will be part of the curriculum from September.

Waterford teacher Fintan O'Mahony wanted the conference to discuss a motion on the issue of escalating their industrial action to include lack of co-operation with the new English syllabus, but agreed to withdraw it after consultations.

Mr O'Mahony, who is on the ASTI's CEC, will now bring the proposal before the union's governing committees.

ASTI president-elect Philip Irwin said the matter would be considered before the autumn.

"We are in the business of protecting the education system and the standards of the system, etc, so that our first option is not strike action," Mr Irwin said.

"The issue about English teachers and teaching the syllabus. . . there are lots of aspects of the syllabus itself we are not in opposition to.

"But the issue of strike action will be something we will consider again in the autumn depending on how things go."

English will be the first subject to be introduced under the new Junior Cycle regime.

It will be 2019 before all the revised syllabuses are rolled out.

Teachers have complained about lack of resources to implement the reforms and a lack of training, while unions remain opposed to a key element of the package – teachers assessing their own students.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and Teachers' Union of Ireland president Gerard Craughwell both indicated a willingness this week to explore the issue.

Irish Independent

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