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Teachers in Donegal warn of further strike action

Teachers on strike at Errigal College, Letterkenny today (Tuesday).

BY C.J.MCGINLEY

TEACHERS across Donegal have warned they’ll be back on the picket lines again in January unless the government backs down on controversial plans over external assessment for the Junior Certificate examination.

A total of 931 teachers in 27 post primary schools across the Donegal are engaging in a one day strike after talks to resolve the row failed to broker agreement last Friday.

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The teachers who are members of the ASTI and TUI trade unions have spoke of how their resolve is firm on the issue and stressed it was not about wages or salaries but ‘a principle stand to maintain the integrity” of the state examination.

It is the first time in 38-years the two main teachers unions have joined forces on strike action.
Speaking to the Donegal News on the picket line at Errigal College, Letterkenny, Ms Deirdre Markham, said teachers were united on what was a ‘red-line issue’.

“We are deeply concerned about maintaining the integrity of the state exams,” she said.

“We’ve already lost year heads, career guidance teachers and middle management in schools has been decimated by all the cuts over the last few years. This was the final straw for us,”

“The Minister needs to go further. She is offering a 60/40 split with 60 per cent tested in a terminal exam at the end of 3rd year and the 40 per cent as continuous assessment which she wants marked by the students’ own teachers,”

“But,this is not going to solve the issue. It has to be 100 per cent external,” she added.

Standing beside her, Bernard Doherty, said the proposals by the government would fundamentally “change the relationship” between teachers and pupils.

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“It is creating a scenario where teachers are being asked to mark the final state certification exams of their neighbours, friends and even their children in some cases,” he said.
T
housands of students, parents, and bus firms were contacted by schools on Friday by text and flyers to confirm the move. Talks to avert strike action over external assessment have failed to broker agreement.

Any hopes of a settlement were finally nailed on Friday morning when the Minister for Education, Ms Jan O’Sullivan, said she was not rowing back on the issue and had nothing more to offer.

The unions have warned members will be back on the picket lines again in January if the issue is not resolved.

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