ASTI threatens to end support for programme


THE Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI), has threatened not to cooperate with implementing the controversial Religion and Sexuality Education programme which is due to be introduced in all schools in September.

The union's threat follows last week's announcement by the Department of Education that it was disbanding its special support unit. The unit was expected to have continued operating after it had completed the initial training of the 22 teacher/trainers, known as presenters, and the two teachers in each school, who are introducing the RSE programme into schools.

According to the ASTI's president, Mr John Mulcahy, only the Department's training coordinator and her secretary would be retained.

"We are treating it as a very serious problem. Schools in general feel very badly let down. We would be looking at the withdrawal of our support from the whole programme," Mr Mulcahy said. "We are very perturbed that absolutely no support will be available in the next school year."

Two teachers in each second level school were trained for the programme by the original 22 presenters. These teachers in turn would train other teachers in a cascade model. In addition, each school has had to draw up a policy on the implementation and content of the programme, in association with the parents in each school. Requests for seminars on a Whole School Approach to RSE have to date exceeded trainer availability.

A Department of Education spokesman said its £3.5 million training programme had been completed.