ASTI delegates unanimously passed a motion yesterday demanding that Croke Park hours be rescinded, in light of the recent economic recovery.
Siobhan O’Donovan, of the Desmond branch which proposed the motion, said the extra hours were counter-productive and that some teachers had pulled back on extra-curricular activities in schools as a result.
She pointed to debating and school tours as activities from which teachers might withdraw.
Ms O’Donovan and other teachers were applauded by delegates when they called for an end to Croke Park hours once the agreement finishes, demanding that they never be repeated.
Ms O’Donovan, a French and English teacher at Patrician Academy, Mallow, Co Cork, said a whole chunk of her life had vanished because of the extra hours.
“I love teaching but the Croke Park agreement is the greatest waste of time ever and a source of negative feelings among teachers. These hours are a waste of my time and I want them back,” she said.
James McGovern, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, said teachers felt they were putting in the hours just for the sake of it, adding that there should be more flexibility. He said the agreement had outlived its usefulness and that teachers had delivered almost 2m extra working hours, not counting extra-curricular hours.
Convention also passed a motion calling for the removal of the public-service pension levy.
Mary Lynch, Fermoy, Co Cork, proposing, said it was an unfair tax that reduces teachers’ pay by between 7.5% and 10%.
“It is a fraud to call it a pension levy. It is a mere tax on the fact that we have a pension,” she claimed.
Dublin delegate Susie Hall said the levy was an “actual theft” and represented a dipping into teachers’ pockets.
Concerns were also voiced about class sizes, which, according to ASTI general secretary Pat King, have increased significantly since the 2009 cut to the pupil-teacher ratio.
This, he said, is particularly concerning given the emphasis in the proposed Junior Certificate reforms on using a broad range of teaching and learning methods, as well as developing skills such as verbal communication, teamwork and social and emotional skills.
Access to IT equipment in the classroom was also impacting on schools’ capacity to implement the reforms, the conference heard.
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