Saturday 24 March 2018

'I’m disappointed that students are missing classes, but we will make it up' - Teachers continue 'painful' strike

Schools will remain shut
Schools will remain shut

Greg Harkin

Teachers on strike at one school say they are determined to keep going – and believe their students support them.

Staff at Loreto Secondary School in Letterkenny took turns at the picket line in driving torrential rain yesterday.

Almost one thousand girls who attend the school were facing a second day without classes following the lock-out on Monday.

For Deirdre Mannering, a Maths and PE teacher at the school, the dispute is as much about future teachers.

“I’ve been a teacher for 30 years and I know there are many of our students who will go on in the future to be wonderful teachers and they deserve equal pay when they reach their goal,” she said.

Working extra hours, she insisted, isn’t an issue. She already gives up many extra hours for both academic studies and after school sports.

“This strike is about parity of pay for young teachers,” she said.

“The separate issue of supervision and extra hours is not of our making. The Board of Management have decided to close the school.

“I’m in school for an hour and half three evenings a week with basketball and organise weekends away for the school teams.

“At Easter I came in for four days for extra classes for my Maths students. All of this is typical of what teachers at this school do.

“I’m disappointed that students are missing classes, but we will make it up. I’ll be back in here during holidays doing extra classes for them.”

She insisted school life across the country would be much duller without teachers giving up their free time.

“There wouldn’t be a basketball game, a football match, a debating team, young scientists without the hard work of teachers giving up their own free time,” said Deirdre.

“Education is not about points; it’s about a rounded education and helping every child to do well inside and out.

“This dispute will be resolved. It might be very painful but right now the Education Minister appears to be in no hurry whatsoever to help bring it to an end.”

Fellow maths teacher Lorcan Donnellan is angry his school won’t re-open today for Junior and Leaving Cert students.

“I think we can and should resolve the issues around supervision of students,” he said.

“But the issue of parity must be fought. A newly-qualified teacher who has just done six years at third level ends up earning €28k per year, that’s if they can get full-time hours.

“And they’re being told by a Minister on a quarter of a million euro a year, almost ten times the money, that they just have to get on with it. It’s so so wrong.”

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