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School's out as teachers strike

Posted by Sally O'Brien, on 02/12/2014. School's out as teachers strikeTags: Education And Politics Parenting Teachers

Secondary schools will be without students this morning as the teachers’ strike goes ahead despite last minute appeals, leaving nearly 350,000 students without tuition as the 27,000 teachers take industrial action.

The proposed changes to the Junior Certificate, which would see an end to traditional type exams and a move over to continuous assessment in the classroom, has resulted in strike action.

According to the Irish Independent: ‘Union leaders are opposed to the proposal that teachers assess their own students, claiming it will lead to inconsistencies between schools and undermine standards, and the lack of information about what resources will be available to schools to implement the changes.’

Attempts had been made to avoid today’s strike by the Dept of Education with various concessions made by Minister Jan O’Sullivan. The Minister has described school-based assessment as integral to reform of the junior cycle. However she agreed to reduce the portion of marks assessed by teachers from 100 per cent to 40 per cent but says no further diminution is possible.

However, Teachers’ Unions ASTI and TUI represent a united front against changes and continue with their position that all components of the state exam should be externally assessed.
The ASTI has stated “Despite the Minister’s decision to change the original proposals, the introduction of 40 per cent school based assessment would compromise the credibility and transparency of the examinations process,” said TUI President Gerry Quinn. “A system of teachers assessing their own students for state exam purposes will significantly change the relationship between the teacher and student "

The national executive of the Irish Second-Level Students' Union (ISSU) has criticised the "lock out" and its president, Leaving Certificate student, Craig McHugh, accused the unions of using their pupils as pawns.

"The ISSU is very supportive of the proposed reforms to the Junior Cycle, and believes that this is in the best interest of the students", he said.

In the Irish Independent, The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny warned teachers that: "It is unfair on students and parents especially those in the very exam years that these reforms refer to. "The Minister for Education has engaged in dialogue and listened to concerns of the teachers' representatives" he added.

Another strike is set for January 2015.



(02-12-2014 09:45)

ASTI/TUI Statement released this morning

27,000 teachers strike to protect education system
27,000 second level teachers are taking strike action today in protest at concerns over significant elements of the proposed new Junior Cycle. Teachers represented by ASTI and TUI are concerned that aspects of the proposals pose a threat to education standards, fairness and quality. Teachers also have concerns about current system capacity to accommodate such major change.
Teachers care deeply about the education system that they work in and the students they teach, said ASTI President Philip Irwin. They are reluctantly taking strike action today in protest at what they see as a significant threat to education standards and education quality in Ireland. However, we are open to further engagement with the Minister on this issue in an effort to seek a solution. We still believe it is possible to improve Junior Cycle education while maintaining the integrity of the education system.

Teachers fully recognise the importance of not relying exclusively on a terminal examination, said TUI President Gerry Quinn. Project, portfolio and practical work already form a significant part of many subjects, but, crucially, all elements are assessed externally. We are prepared to consider the extension of this practice provided it is done in a way which does not create more pressure on students. We have made clear our position that education standards must be maintained. We are prepared to work in partnership with the Minister to find mutually acceptable ways to implement sound educational change.

Talks between the teacher unions and the Minister for Education and Skills two weeks ago failed to resolve the impasse over the Framework for Junior Cycle. Twenty-seven thousand teachers who are members of the ASTI and the TUI will be engaged in todays strike.

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