The country’s biggest secondary teachers’ union has stated that it will work to support the Government’s decision to postpone the Leaving Cert exams until later this year.
The Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (ASTI) faced a wave of criticism on social media after it said at the weekend that "no teacher will be required to do anything" and the exam proposal from the Department of Education "cannot be enforced".
This was a reference to plans for schools to reopen for sixth year students for two weeks in July.
Its latest statement on Tuesday evening contrasts with last weekend’s comment.
Following a lengthy meeting of the union’s executive body on Tuesday, the ASTI said it was now looking forward to “engaging constructively” with the Minister for Education and the department.
"In recent days, we have consulted extensively with our members. Second-level teachers have given us a strong message of overwhelming support for their students," ASTI president Deirdre Mac Donald said.
The union’s executive body said it confirmed its support for the Minister’s Leaving Cert exam plans, “notwithstanding a number of serious concerns raised by teachers all over the country”.
The executive reported that members had indicated a willingness to be available where possible to assist with student preparation and face-to-face engagement prior to the examinations.
Following the meeting, Ms Mac Donald said the ASTI will meet the department and other relevant agencies in order to seek to resolve issues raised by its members.
“We look forward to engaging constructively with the Minister and the Department. We are very cognisant of the wellbeing implications posed by this pandemic to everyone, especially our students.”
The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), meanwhile, has asked its members to facilitate the reopening of schools for two weeks in July.
It has also called for the quota of students who have suffered disadvantage who are accepted through third level access schemes to be increased.
Seamus Lahart, TUI president, said it was a time to show "solidarity, compassion, flexibility and imaginative thinking" when it came to supporting students.
As a result, he said students with underlying health issues, special educational needs or those who were already victims of educational disadvantage must not have their prospects further damaged by the current crisis.
The union said it will be working closely with the State Examinations Commission and Minister for Education in this regard in the coming weeks.