Unions seek clarity over definition of teachers’ extra duties

UNIONS and school managers want agreement on what extra duties teachers should do in the extra hour a week required of them under the Croke Park public service pay and reform deal.

The additional hour was to have been provided from the start of the school year last month, but talks on implementation have only got under way in earnest in recent weeks.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation and Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland have both engaged in talks but the Teachers’ Union of Ireland remains outside until the end of next week at least, when a ballot result will determine if members are to suspend industrial action that has led to the Department of Education refusing to negotiate with their officials.

The wording in the deal finalised earlier this year states teachers would be available for the extra hour per week to facilitate duties such as school planning, continuous professional development, induction of new teachers, substitution and supervision, at the discretion of each school’s management. But the Irish Examiner has learned that unions and bodies representing management of schools both favour more specific instructions that would prevent what one education source described as a “carte blanche” approach that could lead to wide discrepancies between schools in the delivery of the extra time.

Permanent teachers at second level are contracted to provide up to 22 hours of class contact time, with additional time to be used for class preparation, correction of student work and other activities.

Primary and second level teachers who make themselves available for an hour a week of supervision and substitution duties are paid an extra €1,800 a year.

The Department of Education is also insisting teachers must provide the full 183 days at primary level and 167 days at second level of tuition required in their contracts.

This would mean an end to practices such as staff meetings or training being held outside school hours, although it is unclear if it will mean such activities moving to weekends or holiday periods.

It is understood the department favours regional delivery of continuous professional development, with national training teams for subject curriculum services already being disbanded in favour of delivery through local education centres.


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