Secondary schools seek supervisors to keep strike-hit schools open

Parents in schools affected by industrial action will get supervisor application forms

Contingency plans during looming industrial action by teachers will give priority supervisor cover to Leaving and Junior Cert classes. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Contingency plans during looming industrial action by teachers will give priority supervisor cover to Leaving and Junior Cert classes. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

School management bodies met with Department of Education officials yesterday afternoon to finalise contingency plans for industrial action.

Under these plans, parents of all students in schools affected will receive letters stating their school is at risk of closure, along with application forms to become supervisors in local school.

Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) members are set to stage seven days of strikes between the end of October and early December. In addition, the union plans to cease supervision and substitution duties from Monday, November 7th, onwards, which is likely to close hundreds of schools indefinitely.

The contingency plans are based on keeping schools affected by the supervision and substitution withdrawal open.

Contingency plans

However, the three-week window available to recruit and vet supervisors is considered impossible by most school management bodies. In addition, the union’s refusal to suspend the directive for principals means contingency plans are almost impossible in any school where there is an ASTI principal.

In all, it is likely up to 525 – or two out of three secondary schools – will close as a result of the action, at least initially.

Almost all voluntary secondary schools – owned or run by religious bodies – are set to close. These schools are managed by the Joint Managerial Body.

In addition, a significant number of the 95 or more community and comprehensive schools are set to close. They are typically staffed by members of both the ASTI and Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI). These schools are managed by the Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools.

Battle of wills

Michael Moriarty

He said he was disappointed at the ASTI’s action and said it seemed the union was engaged in a “battle of wills” against the Government, and using pupils as pawns.

The ASTI, however, insists it has given adequate notice to school management bodies over its plans and blames the Government for bringing the dispute to this point.

The contingency plans, meanwhile, indicate that priority cover will be given to Leaving and Junior Cert classes to help minimise disruption to tens of thousands of students in the run-up to State exams.

The plan notes many supervisors will have no experience of large groups of children and training will be required. This will be provided through day-long seminars.