How will the ASTI’s vote affect my child’s school?

Q&A: Uncertainty looms for students, teachers and parents

The ASTI  says it will consider strike action  if its dispute with the Government ratchets up over the coming weeks and months. Photograph: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

The ASTI says it will consider strike action if its dispute with the Government ratchets up over the coming weeks and months. Photograph: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

 

Q. Will the ASTI’s rejection of settlement proposals disrupt schools in the run-up to the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert exams?

At the very least, the ASTI’s decision to reject settlement proposals means there is a now a period of uncertainty ahead.

The union says that while it will engage in industrial action, it will avoid any measures that could cause the closure of schools .

However, it says it will consider strike action – which could close schools – if its dispute with the Government ratchets up over the coming weeks and months.

Q. What will happen to Junior Cert students who are due to sit their exams in the summer?

The ASTI’s ban on teachers co-operating in any way with junior cycle reforms still stands. This means Junior Cert students in about two out of three schools will not be able take part in new classroom-based assessments. A task linked to these assessments is worth 10 per cent of this summer’s English exam.

It’s difficult to see how this can be resolved. The ASTI insists it is in the gift of the Minister for Education to ensure students are not penalised.

Richard Bruton, however, has insisted that attempts to award students 10 per cent for work they have not done would undermine the integrity of the State exams.

Q. What are the financial implications of the vote for ASTI teachers?

They face losing thousands of euro in increments and pay restoration over the coming months under financial emergency legislation passed by the Government.

On pay increments, more than 2,000 teachers have already had these pay rises frozen. About 10,000 more will have incremental pay rises frozen between now and April.

These could lead to permanent losses as the Department of Education has signalled that these increments would not be back-dated in the event of the ASTI rejecting this “final” deal.

Q. If the ASTI says it not going to close schools, what kind of industrial action will it engage in?

The ASTI standing committee will meet next week to decide on what exactly its industrial action will consist of.

It says it will continue to cease working additional “Croke Park” hours, which amount to 33 non-teaching hours a year. This may impact on parent-teacher meetings: some schools may end up closing to allow these meetings during school time, or cancel them.

It says it will also engage in the “orderly withdrawal” of supervision and substitution duties.

This action closed hundreds of schools late last year on health and safety grounds.

However, the union says this can be avoided by giving schools adequate notice and ensuring principals can assist in keeping schools open.

This should minimise disruption, but it is no guarantee against school closures.