The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) conducted a ballot of its members on proposals which emerged from talks between the Union and the Department of Education and Skills. Parents were awaiting the results, many concerned by the impact that this dispute has on their children. On 2nd February 2017 the results of the ballot were released. ASTI Members rejected the proposal by 52.5% to 47.5%.

With the exams approaching, parents are feeling more and more frustrated and angry. Is anyone thinking about our children? What is the Department of Education and Skills doing to prevent any further strikes?

The National Parents Council post primary made several 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 continue our calls 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

The National Parents Council post primary ensures that parents’ voice is represented at the national level. “We are not taking sides in this dispute”, says Rose Callan, President of the NPCpp. “Our only aim is to minimise the impact this dispute has on our children. Education of our children is important and we urge both the Department of Education and Skills and ASTI to keep the best interest of our children central to their thoughts.”

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.

What we hear from parents:
“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.”

“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.