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Teachers to hold "symbolic" lunchtime protests over new Junior Cycle

A teacher will remain in the school to supervise students during the protests.

TEACHERS ARE TO hold lunchtime protests in secondary schools as the ongoing dispute over the new Junior Cycle Student Award reaches a new level.

Pat King, general secretary of the ASTI, confirmed to that ASTI members are to protest on Tuesday 11 March.

It is understood that members of the TUI will also be involved in the protests.

King said that the protest has not yet been formally announced, but will involve 750 second level schools.

There’ll be a protest outside the gate of each school. The teacher will come out during their lunch break. There won’t be any loss of class time or teaching time.

He said that the teacher rostered for supervision at the time will supervise the students.

The protests are against the proposed Junior Cycle reforms. Teachers are opposed to the abolition of the Junior Certificate exam which they say was “announced unilaterally without consultation with anyone”.

They are also opposed to the absence of external independent objective assessments, as proposals are there for teachers to assess their pupils. “We see that as a fundamental change in the relationship with students,” said King.

He said that the changes are “unresourced and schools haven’t the capacity to deal with the changes”.

The other issue teachers have is that the changes are coming in one subject at a time, and that they feel the preparation and training before the new English course, for example, is “totally insufficient to prepare people for a whole new approach for teaching of English”.

Symbolic gesture

ASTI members are also to be balloted on non-cooperation with the changes when they come in.

“The protest is just a symbolic gesture on our behalf,” said King.

It won’t affect the students. They will be supervised by the teachers.

King said that an all-out strike is “not on the cards”. He added that he believes a lot of parents “don’t fully understand” what’s being proposed with the new junior cycle.

“They will be concerned when they see large numbers of teachers when they see them expressing their concerns,” he said.

King added that the protests are “not about money or anything else”.

A meeting was held today with Department of Education officials, but King said that the ASTI members are “becoming more and more frustrated”.

“We are going through the motions of meetings and talks. There is no listening going on.”

Read: Quinn urged to enter mediation talks with teachers over junior cycle reform>

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