Trust in Minister is broken warns local ASTI rep

The regional representative for the North-Eastern branch of the ASTI has spoken of the broken relationship between local teachers and the Minister for Education Norma Foley. Ray Nolan, a teacher at St Mary’s Diocesan school in Drogheda believes trust between the two parties are at an all-time low following what he describes as a ‘litany of broken promises to teachers unions since she took up her role in 2020.

Ray was speaking in the week where the ASTI held their annual conference in which the Minister for Education spoke last week. Among the major issues outlined by teachers at the conference were teachers pay, oversized classrooms and the Minister’s plans to reform the leaving cert. According to Ray, the lack of funding in the education system in recent years has been a major bone of contention for teachers.

“Ireland ranks last out of 36 developed countries for investment in education as a measure of our national wealth or gross domestic product (GDP) as was shown in a report from the OECD last year. Our classrooms are grossly underfunded and we ned help from the government,” insisted Ray. “All these issues we have come to a head over the last couple of years when COVID arrived at our doors and put us under enormous pressure while highlighting the lack of resources we actually have. We have a Minister who we feel has not been truthful with us and the trust we have in her is pretty low right now,” added Ray.

“Minister Foley told us that the changes to the Leaving Cert last year would be a one time thing due to Covid but shortly afterwards she made this big announcement about a major overhaul and reform of the Leaving Cert system. To us a reform would imply that the system is badly damaged which we fundamentally disagree with. We also have issues about the treatment of new teachers coming into the system who we feel are very unfairly treated. They are getting treated differently with regards to pay and there are a number of teachers who are coming out of college qualified only to be told that they are only going to get maybe eleven or twelve hours of work a week.

“They are on standby for when teachers are sick and they are expected to just be on call and accept the fact that they will not be working full hours. The attractiveness of the job is unfortunately at an all time low and the Minister needs to realise that students are going to be put off going into teaching if she doesn’t treat the sector with the respect it deserves. The whole teaching sector could be in dire trouble in a few years if things are allowed to continue the way they are going,” warned Ray.

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