Teachers' threaten more strikes in the Autumn
Teaching UNIONS have warned of more strikes at the beginning of the new school year if the row over Junior Certificate reform is not resolved.
Some 27,000 teachers across 750 schools nationwide held a lunchtime protest yesterday against Government plans to abolish external examinations for the junior cycle.
Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan intends to implement changes in September, starting with English, but teachers are particularly opposed to changes that would see them grade their own students' exams.
Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) president Philip Irwin, said that unless the department agree to have exams corrected by independent examiners, they will be left with no option but to strike.
"If this cannot be resolved, we will certainly be looking at strike action in the autumn and also considering a protest march to the Dáil," he said.
His Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) counterpart, Gerry Quinn insisted that no reforms can be made without the backing of the teachers.
"We've successfully boycotted the department's training for teacher's assessment of students in English for next year, so they can't proceed without us," said Mr Quinn.
Minister O'Sullivan responded to the unions' latest actions.
"They need to be back at the table talking rather than vetoing the progress that everybody wants to see," she said.
In February, teachers unions rejected a reform proposal by mediator Pauric Travers and neither party have discussed the junior cycle since.
Mr Quinn denied his union was "vetoing progress".
"Assessing students in the manner suggested by the minister is not progressive. It's a regressive," he argued. "If Jan O'Sullivan says that she's willing to talk then I believe she is.
"I'd be hopeful we could sit down over the coming weeks, but it must be an open discussion without any pre-conditions," Mr Quinn told the Herald.