More than 370 voluntary secondary schools run by or for religious orders are those which will be hardest hit by the planned with- drawal from supervision and substitution duties by Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) members after the mid-term break on Monday, November 7.
However, while more than 100 schools in other sectors are listed as seeking applicants to be temporary supervisors on the Department of Education website, no voluntary secondary schools are listed.
The Joint Managerial Body (JMB), which represents schools in the sector, said some may be making local arrangements instead, but an ASTI ban on principals facilitating recruitment or operation of contingency plans makes things harder.
“If our schools don’t feel they can engage in the process, there is little point starting into that process when they don’t have the management in place to even support the recruitment process,” said JMB general secretary John Curtis.
Asked if schools could not begin the process and have applications directed to board members instead of the principals, he said board members do not ordinarily have roles in the day-to-day running of schools.
The position means that, should the ASTI agree to give principals or deputy principals, or both, a derogation from the action, applications for temporary supervisors at those 375 schools would only then be sought.
The same difficulties now also face dozens of other schools after the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) executive decided yesterday to tell members not to co-operate with the hiring process at schools where the ASTI action will require temporary supervisors. This position at schools with members of both unions, which are currently advertising for applicants, could make their ability to remain open throughout November equally difficult as that of voluntary secondary schools.
“We’re telling members who are principals, deputy principals or holders of posts of responsibility that it’s not their job to recruit or train the external supervisors, they have a heavy enough workload already,” said TUI president Joanne Irwin.
ASTI leaders are due to meet again on Monday with Department of Education officials. Education Minister Richard Bruton returned from China yesterday, cutting short his participation in a higher education trade mission, but it is unclear if he will be directly involved in next week’s talks.
The first of seven strike days is scheduled next Thursday, a day before schools get their mid-term break, with six more planned up to and including December 7. However, most would be immaterial if schools with ASTI members on staff can not open due to the industrial action or TUI refusal to undertake duties of their colleagues.
As expected, the TUI executive is telling members they will not be paid if they decide not to pass ASTI pickets. But, Ms Irwin said, it is hoped individual schools will choose not to notify absences of TUI members on days ASTI pickets are in place and force their pay to be docked, as this could only heighten tensions in schools.