19 November, 2014 - Statement by Minister for Education and Skills on meeting with second-level teaching unions

The Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD, today restated her firm conviction that the package offered to the second-level teaching unions last week has the capacity to resolve the long-running dispute regarding junior cycle reform. The Minister made her comments after a meeting with both the ASTI and the TUI today.

“I want to maintain a dialogue with second-level teaching unions in relation to junior cycle reform. While I am disappointed at both unions’ decision to take strike action on the 2nd December I will keep my door open for talks in the coming weeks.

“There is a significant offer available to both teaching unions that retains State certification, introduces reform and gives a better learning experience to students. I sincerely believe that this offer will in the end of the day form the basis of an agreement and the sooner we engage around that compromise the better.

“However, it is clear that while I have moved significantly both teacher unions remain resistant to any classroom-based assessment by the teacher contributing to junior cycle marks. Unfortunately, the unions are not prepared to move on this point to date.

“Classroom assessment is an important element of junior cycle reform. It provides students with the route to measure important skills such as teamwork, problem solving and communication. I believe that teachers should be involved in that assessment.

“I have asked both unions to reconsider their decision to disrupt schools on the 2nd December and again in January. My door is open for meaningful talks and the decision to proceed with strikes is disproportionate.