Stronger employment protections for English language teachers may be on the way, following the appointment of a mediator to explore terms and conditions in the sector.
For the first time, the Department of Education has committed to a mediation process for the sector, where teacher employment may sometimes be precarious.
Junior Minister Mary Mitchell ‘Connor, who has responsibility for higher education, has announced the appointment of Pat King, former general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI), to head up the process.
Employment-related weaknesses in the sector were highlighted most recently following the sudden closure of Grafton College Dublin, at the end of November, when about 20 teachers were left jobless and owed a month’s pay.
Mr King will be seeking meetings with employer and employee representative bodies - as well as submissions from other interested parties - to identify and discuss relevant issues and explore whether there is scope for an agreed set of minimum employment standards.
The aim is establish the basis for a Registered Employment Agreement (REA), a is a binding collective agreement on the pay or conditions of specified workers, which is registered with the Labour Court.
Ms Mitchell O’Connor said teachers and staff were a central element in ensuring a quality English language sector , to which the Government was committed.
She said the mediation “will be a positive benefit to the sector as a whole and will support the objectives of Ireland’s International Education Strategy by strengthening the quality of our English language sector.”