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Exam row to force closure of 730 schools

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Jan O'Sullivan

Jan O'Sullivan

Gerry Quinn

Gerry Quinn

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Jan O'Sullivan

TEACHERS are not backing down on plans for strike action that will close up to 730 secondary schools across the country this week.

There have been no further talks between the unions and the department over the weekend, despite the threat of 350,000 students being left with no teachers tomorrow.

Last month, members of the ASTI and TUI voted to hold work stoppages, over plans to restructure the Junior Certificate.

The unions, representing 27,000 second-level teachers, have said that critical issues had not been resolved.

A spokesperson for the TUI yesterday told the Herald that "nothing has changed" in recent days and that there have been no further talks.

"There is no update. There aren't any meetings, the strike is going ahead on Tuesday," he said.

A spokesperson for the ASTI also confirmed that the strikes would go ahead.

"It looks like it," she added.

The one-day stoppage is going ahead in opposition to proposals that teachers grade their own students for 40pc of marks in a reformed Junior Certificate.

The two second-level teacher unions argue that independent assessment is essential to ensure objectivity and warn that changing that would undermine education standards.

Secondary teachers have refused to call off the strikes unless Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan tables a new offer on plans to make them mark the Junior Cert.

TUI president Gerry Quinn has said that teachers don't want to put at risk the public confidence in exams that comes from the current arrangements.

"If recent Irish history has taught us anything, it is that regulation is a necessity rather than an optional extra.

"The SEC ensures objectivity and that an A grade has the same value in Donegal, Dublin and Cork.

"This facilitates student planning and preparation for the Leaving Certificate and career paths," he said.

Mr Quinn picked up on the controversy that erupted over the idea that corruption is so endemic in Ireland that teachers could not be trusted to grade their own students.

But the minister has rejected that described it as a "corrosive line of argument".

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has also previously waded into the argument and said that in the digital era, new challenges for the education system had to be tackled.

"There is no doubt that the Junior Certificate needs to be restructured and changed.

"I think it is very important for people to understand that we are entering a different phase of world development here," he said.

And he added that the recent Web Summit in Dublin pointed out the kind of frontiers up ahead that are changing.

hnews@herald.ie


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