Barely a handful of teachers turn up for junior cycle training
Only a handful of teachers turned up for the first of the new junior cycle training sessions, as unions maintain their opposition to proposed reforms.
The Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) placed pickets on Department of Education centres in Monaghan and Sligo where training of teachers of English was scheduled for yesterday.
While a small number of teachers - the count was in single figures - turned up for training in Sligo, none presented themselves in Monaghan.
The training is supposed to continue in another 19 education centres this week and next, but the department may be forced to review the situation if teachers do not attend.
The two second-level teaching unions have directives in place banning participation in the training as part of their policy of non co-operation with the reform package.
The unions are opposed to the plan for teachers to take some responsibility for assessing their own students for the new Junior Certificate.
Training for the changes has been suspended since last year because of the union directives, but Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan recently decided to roll it out again, saying she could not wait any longer for union agreement.
This followed a rejection by union leaders of latest settlement proposals from Dr Pauric Travers, former head of St Patrick's teacher training college, Drumcondra, Dublin.
English is the first of the junior cycle subjects to undergo revision in preparation for the change, and current first years are studying the new syllabus.
Most English teachers had undergone initial training before the directives were in place, and that is regarded as sufficient to carry them through this year.
The latest training is designed to help equip teachers for in-school assessments, which are supposed to start next year - the very issue at the heart of the dispute.
The row has cost students two lost tuition days this year but no further strike action is planned before June.