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Minister must immediately engage in Dialogue with Secondary School Teachers – Nolan

20 May, 2016

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills, Deputy Carol Nolan has today called on the Minister for Education to immediately engage with the Association of Secondary School Teachers of Ireland following the ballot of members to withdraw from Croke Park Hours in June.

The Offaly TD said:

“The overwhelming decision of ASTI members to withdraw from Croke Park hours in June is a clear indication of the sheer frustration that is being experienced by teachers at present.

“Over the past number of years, teachers have had to contend with significant reductions in their terms and conditions as well as huge cutbacks in terms of resources and it is little wonder that they are at the end of their tether.

“A parliamentary question response from the Minister to my office states that the General Secretary of ASTI has written to the Minister recently indicating a potential opportunity for engagement between the Department and the Union.

“I urge the Minister to immediately follow up on this correspondence and engage with ASTI on the issues of concerns of teachers.

“The ongoing lack of certainty is an issue of huge concern to both teachers and students and it is important that every possible step is taken to resolve outstanding issues as soon as possible.” 

See the PQ in question below


Ceist Pharlaiminte

Chun an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíoctha
To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his progress in reforming the 
Junior Cycle and the details of negotiations he has held with the teacher trade 
unions in the past four weeks..
- Carol Nolan.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 19th May, 2016.
Reference Number: 10764/16


Minister Richard Bruton

I would like to thank the Deputy for her question. As you are aware I received 
my seal of office on the evening of 6th May, just less than two weeks ago. 

The formal negotiations with the two second level teacher unions and my 
Department were completed last summer. In fact, my predecessor and the leaders 
of the two unions, on 22nd May 2015, signed a joint statement on the 
"Principles and Implementation for the Junior Cycle" in which it was agreed 
that it was a "reasonable basis upon which reform should proceed". Further 
agreement on resources for implementation was provided in a July 2015 
document.  Based on those the Framework for Junior Cycle 2015 was published 
last August. 

The TUI members voted in favour of the reform but the ASTI members rejected the 
reform at ballot by a margin of 55:45, with only 38% of their members voting. 
Further clarification was sought by the ASTI on aspects of the reform and this 
was provided last December.

It is a matter of deep regret that the ASTI failed to deliver on the 2015 
agreement. Their continuing refusal to cooperate with the new Framework is 
impacting on current junior cycle students of English. 

I have noted the content of an ASTI announcement in March of this year and the 
remarks of their General Secretary to their Easter Convention in relation to a 
decision of the ASTI Standing Committee to call a series of one-day strikes 
from September 2016.   In his remarks, the General Secretary stated that their 
intention is to "allow for constructive use of the window of opportunity that 
exists in the interim period of time. That opportunity is there for the next 
Minister for Education and Skills, if they so choose to avail of it." 

I have also received a letter from the General Secretary of the ASTI dated 9th 
May, indicating that the ASTI looks forward to engaging with me on a number of 
named issues, including junior cycle reform. 

I welcome the indications of the ASTI in this regard.   If the ASTI requires 
further clarifications on any aspects of the published framework, I am happy to 
facilitate their request.  My Department has already clearly signalled that it 
is willing to support the ASTI in re-visiting this issue with their members. 

I hope that the ASTI can re-consider their current stance.  This is in the 
interests of their own members who are currently teaching a new programme for 
which they have not received the available professional training.  It is also 
in the paramount interest of the students who are disadvantaged by the current 

I intend to make contact with the ASTI to arrange for an appropriate engagement 
in follow-up to the letter of 9 May.

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