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Secondary School closures due to teacher strikes

Teachers from secondary schools in the Liberties area participated in strike action on Thursday 22nd January against proposed Junior Certificate reforms.

330,000 students were affected across Ireland as 730 secondary schools closed for the day for the second time over the new Junior Cert programme proposals. This caused disruption to parents and guardians of the students, teachers as they missed a day of pay and students themselves because they didn’t receive teaching on that day.

A principal of an inner-city secondary school, who doesn’t wish to be named, explained the events which occurred on that day of strike action at their school. They said “On that day, picket duty was at the front of the school. I took part in the ASTI union strike which went from 8.10am to 9.30am. After that, myself and the other teachers were finished for the rest of the day but it was unpaid. We received nothing but positive comments about our peaceful behaviour while we were striking.”

ASTI. Credit: www.facebook.com/astiteachers/photos

ASTI. Credit: www.facebook.com/astiteachers/photos

They also talked about their opinions of the Junior Cycle reforms. The principal said “I think the reforms are necessary because every 10-12 years changes should happen to reflect the needs of society. Minor reform may take place within the next five years if inner city schools receive investment from the government.

In my opinion, having teachers assess pupils at Junior Cert level would result in unequal treatment of people such as personality issues of educators and students not getting on and favouritism towards certain pupils. The teacher’s role would change – instead of a mentor; they would now be an examiner.”

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), who are based on Winetavern Street in Dublin 8, stands by their opinions about assessment being included as part of the Junior Cycle reforms. The ASTI said that every student is entitled to a fair, impartial and transparent Junior Cycle State exams system.

They think the Minister for Education’s proposals do not allow for national grading/marking standards to be maintained and without these standards, no one can know for sure if what is considered to be an A, B or C is considered to be the same grade in another school.

Gemma Tuffy, Media and Communications Officer for the ASTI, explained what is happening at present in relation to the ASTI/TUI Junior Cycle dispute. The teacher unions attended a meeting on the afternoon of Thursday 19th February with Dr. Pauric Travers and also officials from the Department of Education and Skills.

She said about the meeting “The current situation is that we have engaged in talks with the Department of Education and Skills and Dr. Pauric Travers. At the end of those talks, Dr. Travers issued a draft document for both sides to consider. The teacher unions sought clarifications to various aspects of the document.  We also asked a number of questions in relation to aspects of the document.

These clarifications will be issued next week, the end of February. Following that, the ASTI and TUI will meet to consider the situation. This process is ongoing so we cannot comment further at this stage.  We have previously stated that we will engage in further industrial action if the dispute is not resolved.”

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