Teachers across Wexford strike after talks break down
More than 11,000 secondary school students, a quarter of whom are estimated to be sitting their Junior or Leaving Certificate in four months time, couldn't attend school last Thursday as teachers took to the picket lines over proposed changes to the Junior Certificate marking system.
Approximately 800 teachers in County Wexford's 21 secondary schools are involved in the nationwide strike action by the Association of Secondary School Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI).
At the centre of the dispute is a compromised proposal by the Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan to introduce partial continuous assessment during the Junior Cycle with class teachers to be responsible for marking 40 per cent of students' work and the remaining 60 per cent assessed in exams.
Teachers are opposed to the proposal on the grounds that it will alter their role and change the relationship between them and their students.
This is the second in a series of strikes mounted by second level teachers over proposals to change the Junior Certificate cycle.
Last week talks between the ASTI and the TUI, the second level teacher unions, and the Minster for Education reached an impasse and a bid to broker a deal between the two failed.
According to the ASTI and the TUI 'there remains a considerable difference between the two respective positions'.
Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan said the strike action was 'disproportionate and unnecessary.
'There is no reason to close schools. The strike will only result in students missing a day's teaching, disruption to parents and the loss of a day's pay for teachers. The strike is disproportionate and unnecessary.
'Reform of the Junior Cycle is important and is a policy priority. One education partner cannot be allowed to block this important reform. The voices of parents, students, school management and other partners are equally important in this debate. They support the fair and reasonable proposal Their mandate and opinion deserves equal recognition in relation to Junior Cycle reform.
'The current dispute with the teacher unions will not be resolved on the picket line.
'It will be resolved through meaningful negotiation. On Wednesday evening last, Dr. Pauric Travers contacted the teacher unions and myself to propose further talks.'
Both sides agreed to further talks which are expected to take place this week.