Teachers have “no appetite” for strike

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rp_backtoschool2010.jpg Kathy Masterson

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A LIMERICK principal believes that there is “no appetite” among teachers for strike action, ahead of the planned strike at second-level schools on December 2 due to disagreements over proposed Junior Cert reforms.

Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh principal Donncha Ó Treasaigh said he is in favour of the reforms currently proposed by Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan and that he is “against strike action as it would lead to major inconvenience for both parents and pupils”.

“The curriculum was changed when the Inter Cert became the Junior Cert, but the exams and how learning is measured hardly changed one iota. Arguably, the gap between the experience of our young people currently attending post-primary and the reality of the world in third level, and by extension the world of work, is growing exponentially,” commented Mr Ó Treasaigh.

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He added that school-based assessment “encourages the teaching of a broader range of skills and means that a much more rounded picture emerges of each young person’s capabilities and successes”.

According to Mr Ó Treasaigh, Minister O’Sullivan has proved that she is “willing to listen to the concerns of teachers”.

Meanwhile Don Ryan, TUI (Teachers’ Union of Ireland) representative for Limerick city, Clare and North Tipperary, said that the TUI and ASTI welcomed the Department of Education’s amendments to the initial proposals but insisted that “issues of critical importance were not resolved”.

“Namely, the threat posed to educational standards by the introduction of internal assessment remains and the issue of the capacity of schools to cope with the magnitude of such significant change was not addressed by the Department,” he said.

According to Mr Ryan, teachers are in favour of reforming the Junior Cert, “but serious objections and concerns about aspects of the new programme remain” that he says are unacceptable.

“Teachers favour positive, appropriately planned and fully resourced improvement and consistently campaign for this. They support the introduction of new forms of assessment, as long as these assessment components are externally marked,” Mr Ryan explained.

Some 88 per cent of TUI members voted in favour of industrial action at a meeting last week.

The TUI and ASTI (Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland) will meet with Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan today (Wednesday, November 19) to further discuss the impending strike action.

Previous proposals had suggested that teachers would be responsible for marking 100 per cent of a student’s work throughout the junior cycle, but Minister O’Sullivan has now proposed that 60 per cent of marks should be allocated on the basis of an exam at the end of third year, which would be externally marked.

The Minister last week described the unions’ decision to strike as “disappointing and disproportionate”.