independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Class time will be cut if teachers take action

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PUPILS sitting the Leaving and Junior Cert exams face the prospect of class time being cut if planned industrial action by one of the biggest teaching unions goes ahead tomorrow.

The Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS), which represents 94 schools, said it could be forced to schedule parent-teacher meetings during the daytime, resulting in cuts to teaching hours in classrooms.

"From Wednesday on, it's highly unlikely schools will host meetings outside school time," general secretary Ciaran Flynn said.

"We expect that supervision and substitution will remain as is. The schools will carry on, and the meetings will be the first to be affected. The reality will be if a necessity for a meeting comes up, it may be held during the school day, obviously with a loss of teaching time."

The comments came as the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said there were no plans to hold last-minute talks aimed at averting industrial action.

The union, which has 17,000 members across 70pc of the secondary school system, rejected the Haddington Road agreement on public service pay and productivity.

Members have been directed not to attend meetings outside of normal school hours, or to take on additional middle-management duties without pay.

Participation in training for the new Junior Cert will also be affected, with members no longer obliged to cover for colleagues on field trips.

The Joint Managerial Body (JMB), representing about 380 secondary schools, and the ACCS have said their priority is to preserve tuition time.

The JMB said it was adopting a "wait and see" approach.

COMMUNITIES

"There may be exceptions, but in the main we're not going to reorganise the school day. We'll step back and see what happens over the coming days and weeks," a spokesman said.

The ASTI said the action would go ahead.

"Nothing has changed," a spokeswoman said. "There've been no developments so it's almost inevitable there'll be industrial action."

The Department of Education said it was monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, primary school teachers will mount a national protest against overcrowded classes in Dublin tomorrow.

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) will protest outside the Department of Education and Skills from 4.30pm, and has called for support from school communities around the capital which have some of the largest class sizes in the country.

Irish Independent

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