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Now second teaching union joins boycott of inspections at schools

By Rebecca Black

Published 12/05/2016

Noelle Buick
Noelle Buick

More teachers are to join a boycott of inspections at two schools in Northern Ireland.

Members of the NASUWT union have now been told not to co-operate with inspections at schools where members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) are taking action.

The ATL is currently boycotting inspections at two schools - Kirkinriola Primary in Ballymena and another unnamed school.

The NASUWT said the move was designed to protect members from a "disproportionate" workload and pressure.

It comes after recent changes to the system, including a reduction in the notice a school gets ahead of an inspection.

On top of that, schools judged as needing urgent or important improvement get a follow-up inspection within 12 to 18 months.

There are also plans for follow-up visits three years after inspection for schools which perform well. The ATL last month passed a motion of no confidence in Northern Ireland's chief schools inspector, Noelle Buick. The NASUWT said that because of this its members were being "unfairly burdened" by the demands of inspections.

"Where the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) gives notice of its intention to inspect, but only on a partial basis as a result of industrial action by other unions, NASUWT members will not participate in any activity related to the inspection due to the unfair burden this places upon them," it added.

The union has written to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education, advising that until the situation is resolved the NASUWT will not co-operate with inspections.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the body was exploring legal action to protect its members.

"Our representations to ETI and the Department have failed to secure a change to this unfair practice and, therefore, we have had no alternative but to escalate our action," he added.

"NASUWT members are already buckling under the pressure of excessive workloads and we will not allow partial inspection to add to this."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said the ETI dismissed any suggestion of discriminatory action.

"The ETI's focus is on ensuring that all pupils are getting a good education," she said. "The ETI inspect without fear or favour to promote improvement and do not distinguish between members of one teaching union or another. The ETI strongly refutes any suggestion of discriminatory action. Completing inspections is in the best interests of the pupils and provides inspectors with a comprehensive picture of the school so that improvements can be made where needed."

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