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Saturday 17 February 2018

Teachers and school managers clash over Croke Park II deal

A LETTER from the main primary school managers' group criticising the Croke Park II proposals has sparked a row.

In an unprecedented move, the Catholic Primary School Managers' Association (CPSMA) wrote to the Labour Relations Commission and schools describing the package as a "bridge too far".

It has drawn the ire of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), which has accused the CPSMA of "gross interference" in a pay negotiation process.

The INTO was a party to the Croke Park II negotiations, while the CPSMA, as a management body, had no role in the process.

Sacrifices

In its letter, CPSMA general secretary Eileen Flynn said they were acutely conscious of the "very difficult economic situation", but that primary schools had already made very significant sacrifices.

The CPSMA has two areas of particular concern: changes in substitution cover arrangements for absent teachers and a proposed redeployment panel for special needs assistants (SNAs).

Ms Flynn stated that while the substitution arrangements may yield short-term savings, they would "generate far higher and longer-lasting costs in terms of pupils' education and opportunities".

She described the proposed redeployment panel for SNAs as a "retrograde step", stating that it was vital that boards of management ensured the best person for any post was employed.

While the CPSMA does not suggest how people should vote, the letter called on schools to "make their voices heard", warning that pupils had become "third-class citizens".

But in its angry retort, the teachers' union criticised the CPSMA for its "widespread and generalised comments about the quality of education which have not been substantiated".

It said INTO members would never allow pupils be relegated to "third-class citizen" status.

While the INTO national executive has not recommended a "yes" vote, it has said that the Government made it quite clear that it intended to cut the salaries and pensions of teachers by legislation if necessary and "the proposals that have emerged are the best that could be achieved through those negotiations".

Meanwhile, Kevin Callinan, the deputy general secretary of IMPACT, which represents SNAs, has rejected criticism of the creation of a redeployment panel.

He said the panel would ensure that valuable years of SNA experience were not lost from the education system.

Irish Independent

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