“When nurses go on strike they don’t walk away from their patients. The education of our children is equally important. We don’t want to see any more disruptions in schools or unequal opportunities at Junior Cert Exams,” says Rebecca Hemeryck, PRO of the National Parents Council post primary (NPCpp).
While the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) is conducting a ballot of its members on proposals which emerged from talks between the Union and the Department of Education and Skills, parents are concerned by the impact that this dispute has on their children.
With the recommendation of the ASTI Central Executive Council to reject the proposals and the exams approaching, parents are feeling more and more frustrated and angry.
“If the members of the ASTI, in line with the recommendation of its Executive Committee, refuse to change their policy of non-co-operation, I expect the Department to confirm to us that it will abandon its plan to proceed with the examination in its current format. To do otherwise would severely prejudice our daughter and all those children who have been prevented from undertaking the assessments as they will only be marked and graded on 90% of the available marks for English,” says a parent from Dublin. “It is quite clear that our children are being used as pawns in the dispute between the Department and ASTI and as parents we are outraged.”
The National Parents Council post primary calls on the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) and the Department of Education and Skills to stop using our children as pawns in this dispute. We are calling for:
• No more disruptions of education of our children
• Equal opportunity for all children at Exams
• Any further action to take place outside teaching hours
• Ballots to be free and secret
“We believe it is unfair to place our children in the front-line of any dispute. No student should be penalised by way of fewer marks being available in an exam nor should they lose any hours in the classroom,” says the President of the National Parents Council post primary, Ms Rose Callan.
Another parent revealed to the National Parents Council: “My son has special educational needs and would greatly benefit from the implementation of the short course/Priority Learning Units (which are part of the new Junior Cycle) as opposed to some core subjects which he finds hugely difficult - one of which he is presently being withdrawn from. Children like him would have a very different experience of post primary school if these measures were implemented by the Department of Education and accepted by ASTI members. Our young people's entire school experience is being affected at present - including their grades.”
“I was shocked when the Department advised that the students under ASTI teachers will be penalised for their teachers not having completed the assessment part of the syllabus. This is more than unfair and must be illegal. Regardless of the unions stance the students should not be penalised. Surely they must be marked on the same level as all other students,” says a mother of a 3rd year student.
The dispute is creating uncertainty and instability for all - students, teachers and parents. It has gone on too long and is delaying necessary advances in education which are essential if Ireland is to be able to respond to the international competitive challenges coming our way. The situation which may arise where the Junior Cert English is marked differently in TUI and ASTI schools is not acceptable.