Teacher raises concerns over Leaving Cert examiners' summer workload and pay
Wexford teacher Pat Younger warned that some Leaving Cert examiners are being asked to write-off the entire month of July just to get exam markings completed on deadline.
Mr Younger, an ASTI member based in New Ross, said an increase in superintendent and examiner pay was now vital if the integrity of the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert examinations are to be protected into the future. Some teachers are earning less than the minimum wage for such exam duties.
Hundreds are now refusing to undertake Junior Cert and Leaving Cert examination work - leaving the State Examinations Commission (SEC) struggling to recruit teachers for some specific exams.
Mr Younger admitted the problem is set to get worse unless pay rates are improved.
"Economics is traditionally one of the final exams staged (in June)," Pat explained.
"So teachers who are undertaking exam script work are already pretty much up against a tight deadline."
Mr Younger said he knows of one case where a teacher works for 26 days, rising at 6am each day so he can clear all the exam scripts in time for the examination return deadline.
"He takes a break for lunch and to go to the gym - that is it.
"He works a 10 to 12 hours day.
"Basically, he is being asked to write-off his entire month of July."
Teachers are then expected to be back for the third week in August to prepare for the new school year.
Mr Younger said what was very disheartening for teachers was the fact Junior Cert and Leaving Cert examinations work was already badly paid.
Earnings from it are then taxed at around 56pc.
Even expenses for teachers to travel to examinations centres have been cut.
"A lot of teachers are voting with their feet - they just won't do examinations work anymore.
"They simply don't see it as being worth it.
"Teachers are paid around €11 per script but they are then coming out with only around €6.
"Many are asking what is the point in giving up their entire month of July for that?"
Mr Younger said that an ASTI motion to seek a 30pc increase in Junior Cert and Leaving Cert examinations pay was a welcome start to recognising the importance of exam work.
He said the entire integrity of the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert examinations hinged on the critical involvement of skilled and experienced teachers.
This is something he said the SEC themselves have acknowledged in the advertisements to recruit teachers for superintendent and examiner work.
Many ASTI members argued that vital examination work should be paid at the same hourly rate as teachers receive during the school year.
The union heard that hundreds of people who used to undertake Leaving and Junior Cert examination work each June now refuse to do so because of the appalling earnings on offer.
Other teachers argued that their salaries are so poor they have no choice.