Issue of subs likely to dominate Belfast congress

 

PANEL rights for temporary teachers and substitute cover are likely to generate some heated debate at this year's INTO annual conference.

The 800 delegates at the conference will be asked to condemn the "failure of the Department of Education to grant permanency of employment to the teachers on existing supply panels" and to "find inexcusable the failure of the Department of Education to create additional supply panels in view of the serious crisis facing schools regarding the availability of qualified substitutes".

The motion also opposes the decision taken by the Department of Education to increase the number of schools included in the existing schemes "due to the fact that this move will overstretch existing resources and personnel". It also deplores the continued practice of employing unqualified personnel as substitute teachers in schools.

A further motion condemns the Minister for Education's refusal to grant panel rights to temporary teachers with three years' service as agreed by the Catholic Primary School Managers' Association and the INTO in April last year.

Another motion goes further demanding that the INTO policy of granting panel rights on completion of probation be granted immediately.

On the substitution issue, regular substitute cover is being demanded to enable teaching principals to carry out their administrative duties.

Another motion calls for a panel of trained substitute teachers to be established for this purpose. An Ennis branch motion demands that substitute cover be provided for all teacher absences including course days, compassionate leave, marriage and other brief absences and that supply panels of trained teachers be established nationwide to cover such absences.

Further motions at congress will debate educational disadvantage in the Republic and Northern Ireland, the complaints procedure, remedial education, early childhood education, funding for primary education and special needs.

This is the first time in 40 years that the INTO's annual conference will take place in Belfast and the opening motion will call for the establishment of joint structures between the British and Irish Governments with a view to promoting closer co-operation between schools in both parts of the island. The INTO is a 32-county organisation, with 5,378 members in the North, consisting of both primary and second level teachers.

And, over and above all these issues, looms the spectre of the £67 million PCV deal, which was accepted by the INTO but rejected by the ASTI and the TUI.