herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Plans for reform of Junior Cert in turmoil as ASTI rejects proposals

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan
Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan

Plans for Junior Certificate reform have been thrown into turmoil again after Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) members rejected a deal agreed by union leaders.

The 18,000-member ASTI voted 55pc-45pc against the proposals and in favour of resuming industrial action, with only 38pc of members casting a vote.

The other second-level union, the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI), has accepted the deal by 69pc-31pc.

It is not decided what form of action the ASTI might pursue - general secretary Pat King said that the union's executive would meet today to consider the matter.

To date, industrial action has mainly taken the form of a refusal to co-operate with training or other preparations for the planned changes, although there have also been two days' strike action.

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan described the ASTI result as "deeply disappointing", while she welcomed the TUI's outcome. She said she hoped that the ASTI would reflect on the decision. Ms O'Sullivan said the plans for teacher training would go ahead.

After a three-year campaign against the original reform package, the union leaderships signed off on a much-diluted version of the proposals during the summer and agreed to put it to ballots.

deal

Much of the union opposition centred on a requirement for teachers to take on some responsibility for assessing their own students, but this was effectively removed from the final deal. ASTI president Maire Ni Chiarba said that while the latest proposals addressed a number of significant issues, in an era of education cuts, diminished resources for students and increased teacher workload, teachers did not have faith in the Government.

She also said ASTI members had expressed concern about the lack of clarity in the latest proposals.

On the other hand, TUI President, Gerry Quinn said their key objectives were attained in the deal.

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