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Teacher unions and minister set for talks to stop third strike

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Teachers at Maynooth Education Campus incorporating Maynooth Post Primary School and Maynooth Community College, Co. Kildare pictured on the picket line outside their school this morning

Teachers at Maynooth Education Campus incorporating Maynooth Post Primary School and Maynooth Community College, Co. Kildare pictured on the picket line outside their school this morning

Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Teachers at Maynooth Education Campus incorporating Maynooth Post Primary School and Maynooth Community College, Co. Kildare pictured on the picket line outside their school this morning

Teachers at Maynooth Education Campus incorporating Maynooth Post Primary School and Maynooth Community College, Co. Kildare pictured on the picket line outside their school this morning

Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Teachers at the Salesian College, Celbridge, Co. Kildare pictured on the picket line outside their school this morning

Teachers at the Salesian College, Celbridge, Co. Kildare pictured on the picket line outside their school this morning

Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Teachers at Maynooth Education Campus incorporating Maynooth Post Primary School and Maynooth Community College, Co. Kildare pictured on the picket line outside their school this morning

TEACHERS unions and the Department of Education will take part in crunch talks to prevent a third strike at schools.

Almost 30,000 secondary school teachers were out on the picket line, protesting against changes to the Junior Cert which would see teachers correcting 40pc of the State exam.

Fresh talks will take place next Thursday in a bid to break the impasse that has emerged between teaching unions and the Department of Education.

Both the ASTI and TUI said they are willing to engage in the talks but said that the strike was necessary because there was no breakthrough on teachers' key concerns.

TUI President Gerry Quinn said that the new assessment system "poses a serious threat to the credibility of the examination process", while ASTI chief Phillip Irwin stated that while portfolio and practical work can be internally assessed, it must be externally assessed "for certification purposes".

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan TD, said that yesterday's strike action was "disproportionate and unnecessary".

"There is no reason to close schools," she said. "The current dispute will not be resolved on the picket line. It will be resolved through meaningful negotiation."

Her comments come as Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald accused the Government of "stubbornly" refusing to listen to teachers as 27,000 secondary school teachers went on strike for the second time in two months. Tanaiste Joan Burton hit back at the Sinn Fein TD by reminding her she attended a fee-paying school.

improvements

The Herald spoke to a number of teachers involved in the strike action yesterday.

Jim O'Neil, a community representative present at O'Connell Secondary School's strike, said that while he welcomed improvements, the current process was "standardised and uniform across the country".

Home economics teacher at Loreto College, St Stephen's Green, Maura McCaul said her students were opposed to teachers correcting exams.

"I asked [my transition year students] how many of you would like your own teachers to have corrected 40pc of the exam, and I didn't get one hand up," she said.

However, there is now growing optimism that talks arranged by Dr Pauric Travers, former president of St Patrick's teacher training college, Drumcondra, will be more constructive.

Dr Travers said that while the previous meetings did not produce a successful outcome, he felt there was some indication that "further talks might be more productive".

hnews@herald.ie