Belfast Telegraph

Unions await teacher strike impact

The response of parents and pupils to a strike by secondary school teachers is expected to play a major part in decisions to hold a third walkout.

Some 27,000 teachers will not work today leaving more than 730 schools locked and 330,000 pupils with no classes for the day in the second in a series of stoppages over reform of the junior certificate.

The teachers are refusing to agree to grade their students in continuous assessment.

The presidents of the two unions involved, the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), said they remain open to talks with the Government in a bid to break the deadlock.

The strike is affecting pupils preparing for mock examinations in the Leaving Certificate in the coming weeks.

Gerry Quinn, TUI president, defended the disruption, saying that their members had no option.

"We already have an independent, objective, transparent and rigorous State examinations model which maintains public trust, and teachers fully support a move away from an excessive reliance on final written examinations," he said.

"However, we believe that the introduction of school-based assessment for certification poses a serious threat to the credibility of the examination process."

ASTI president Philip Irwin, who joined Mr Quinn on the picket line at Newpark Comprehensive in Blackrock, south Dublin, said independent grading of pupils' work was crucial

"We want a first class Junior Cycle education for all students. We fully agree that project work, portfolio work, practical work, and other methods of evaluating student learning are vital elements of a modern, forward-looking system, but we believe that they should be externally assessed for certification purposes," he said.

"There are also serious and justified concerns over the capacity at school and system level to deal with the current proposals.

"We believe a resolution can be found, but teachers' serious concerns must be listened to and addressed. Teachers must have confidence in the change they are implementing in their classrooms."

Today's action by members of the ASTI and TUI follows a day of strike action in December.

But both unions said decisions on future industrial action would not be taken for a number of weeks as union leaders assess the impact of the disruption on schools, parents and pupils.

Reform of the junior certificate to a new Junior Cycle Student Award is based on recommendations from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in 2011.


From Belfast Telegraph