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Dublin: 1 °C Monday 19 March, 2018

Taoiseach says teachers' strike is avoidable, but they don't agree

Around 330,000 second level students will have a day off tomorrow, as teachers go on strike again.

Updated: 1.56pm

ENDA KENNY HAS said that tomorrow’s teachers strike over Junior Cycle reform is avoidable.

The Taoiseach was speaking in the Dáil this afternoon when he said the planned industrial actiondis “avoidable, even today, if the teachers take on board that the Minister has engaged with them an is willing to engage with them”.

“The only ones who are going to suffer here are the children and the students.”

He said that Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has made “quite a deal of compromise” from what was first proposed by her predecessor Ruairí Quinn, adding there are “very reasonable, achievable directives” on the table.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin acknowledged that compromises have been made but said “fresh thinking” is needed to resolve the issue.

He said that “all stakeholders have to be on board” in order for the propsed changes to be implemented, adding that they “cannot be rammed through like Quinn tried to do” in a “ham-fisted and appalling manner”.

Gerry Adams also called on O’Sullivan to go back to the drawing board. Sinn Féin’s private members’ motion on the issue to due to be debated at 7pm.

Kenny encouraged teachers to “reflect upon the changes and the compromises that the Minister has accepted from them”.

Failed talks

The latest round of discussions between the ASTI, TUI and the Department of Education ended last week, without any breakthrough.

Speaking on the News at One, O’Sullivan called on the secondary teachers to call off tomorrow or any any future action.

She said teachers assessing their students at exam-level is “practised widely” abroad.

The [union] leadership needs to go back and look at why they are so entrenched in their view and cannot move at all.

O’Sullivan said that €9 million-worth of extra resources are on the table to help implement the reforms.

The minister said those involved in the disagreement “cannot allow [talk of strikes] to continue” as it will only hurt students.


Speaking on Morning Ireland, TUI President Gerry Quinn said it wouldn’t be possible to call off the strike, and that it was going ahead with “great regret”.

He said that teachers agree with the Minister’s strategy of moving away from rote learning.

However, he stated:

What has happened is that there is a roadblock [...] erected by the Minister and her officials regarding the issue of principle for teachers, around teachers assessing their own students for certification purposes.

Quinn said there was considerable support for their position among members of the public.

Another strike could be on the cards, if the Minister doesn’t back down, he added.

Source: Video

Under the new proposals, teachers would be required to grade 40 per cent of their students’ work internally. It had initially been proposed that teachers mark 100 per cent of their students’ exam work.

The changes have been defended by the Department of Education as giving pupils a more balanced educational experience that places less emphasis on an end of course examination.

Some 27,000 teachers went on strike last month over the issue — resulting in a day off school for around 330,000 students.

Additional reporting: Órla Ryan

Originally published: 9.21am

Read: ‘Somebody dying on the street outside the Dáil is not acceptable’

Also: Teachers are striking today – Here’s why

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