Saturday 18 November 2017

Education minister says ASTI cannot justifiy threatened strike action

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan. Pic Tom Burke
Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan. Pic Tom Burke

Katherine donnelly Education Editor

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan has described the threat of one-day strike action by the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) over Junior Cycle reform as unwarranted and regressive.

She said the ASTI  could not justify its continuing attempt to undermine changes which were "long overdue and now underway" and designed to develop and do justice to the range of talents and abilities of young students in a way the old model cannot do".

The ASTI's Standing Committee is planning a series of one-day strike from September as part of its ongoing campaign of resistance to the changes in teaching and learning.

If the stoppages go ahead they will close up to 500 schools. The only schools unaffected would be in the education and training boards (ETB) sector, where teaches are members of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) , which has singed up for the changes.

Ms O'Sullivan said she was “deeply disappointed that the ASTI has chosen to threaten further inconvenience to students and parents through a series of one day strikes over junior cycle reform.

“I have made it clear to the ASTI that my door was open to clarify any issues regarding the arrangements for much needed Junior Cycle reform that are now being implemented. Unfortunately the ASTI is closing the door on that process".

She said the new Junior Cycle arrangements had been agreed with the leadership of both unions following long and intensive engagement and ASTI’s previous concerns over teachers assessing their own students for State certification purposes had been addressed.

"Unfortunately, ASTI has now unilaterally decided on a course of action that will damage students’ interests.  The continuing non-cooperation of ASTI members with elements of the new arrangements is already disadvantaging current Junior Cycle students of English who are undertaking the new programme in first and second year.  It is unacceptable that ASTI now intend to extend this policy into the next school year".

She said that, given the recent election result, it would fall to a new administration to decide policy in relation to ASTI escalation, adding that the changes were long overdue and now underway.

"The revised Junior Cycle proposals, which have been accepted by the TUI, will deliver much-needed improvement in the teaching and learning experience of students at this vital stage of their development. It has been widely welcomed as a hugely positive development for our education system.

"ASTI simply cannot justify its continuing attempt to undermine it. Embarking on strike action that will only serve to damage and disadvantage young students is unwarranted and regressive"

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