Monday 22 January 2018

We want you - Government in desperate recruitment bid for parents to run schools

Education Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke
Education Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

A nationwide campaign gets underway tomorrow to recruit parents and others to take over supervision and substitution work in hundreds of second-level schools from November 7.

It is a desperate bid to try to avert the closure of schools for in indefinite period arising from industrial action by the Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (ASTI).

Payment will be a minimum of €38.36 per day based on two hours' supervision, and any further supervision above those two hours will be paid at a rate of €19.18 per hour.

Up to two-thirds of second-level schools - around 500 in total - could be forced to close because of ASTI members' withdrawal from supervision and substitution duties as part of their ongoing pay campaign.

The Department of Education will place advertisements in the national media tomorrow identifying schools where external supervisors will be needed to replace thousands of teachers.

Read more: 'Anyone recruited in public service has had to take lower pay' - Richard Bruton

Schools are also expected to use local contacts to find suitable personnel. The contingency plan will involve schools recruiting external personnel to supervise pupils on the school premises, in the school yard as well as in classrooms, where a teacher is absent.

Despite efforts to put contingency arrangements in place, the Department of Education and school management bodies, who met yesterday to finalise a plan, say that widespread school closures are inevitable from November 7.

This is because of the tight deadline set by the ASTI when it announced the action last Friday, and the union's refusal to allow principals play what would be a crucial role in helping to put alternative cover in place. As well as advertising for, and recruiting external supervisors, individuals who are selected for the work have to undergo Garda vetting, and it could take up to the end of November to complete the process.

It means that hundreds of schools are at real risk of not re-opening after the mid-term break, causing serious disruption to the education of up to 250,000 students and massive headaches for parents.

The ASTI has also announced a series of one-day strikes, specifically on the issue of pay equality for newly qualified teachers.

The first of those stoppages is set for Thursday, October 27, which means about 500 schools will close that day, re-open on October 28 and close later that day for the mid-term break.

The other strikes are scheduled for a dates up to December 7, but the withdrawal from supervision and substitution duties is likely to mean that most schools will be closed on those days anyway.

ASTI leaders have accepted an invitation to meet Department of Education officials on the pay row today.

Irish Independent

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