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‘High quality education at risk’ warns ASTI President

Wednesday, 7th August, 2019 4:44pm

It will be impossible to maintain high-quality education unless the issues surrounding teachers’ working conditions and pay are addressed.

That’s according to Deirdre MacDonald, the new President of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI), which represents second-level teachers.

Ms MacDonald began her term as ASTI President last week, and she said addressing the main issues within the teaching profession is essential to maintaining a high-level secondary school system.

The teachers’ leader said second-level teachers had experienced a considerable worsening of their terms and conditions over the past ten years.

“Pay cuts for existing teachers and the inequitable treatment of newer entrants to the profession have resulted in widespread teacher shortages,” she said.

“Since 2010, teachers entering the teaching profession are on different pay scales than their colleagues and lose out substantially over the duration of their careers. Schools are experiencing severe difficulties recruiting teachers as graduates leave the country or choose other careers.”

“Cuts to funding and resources in second level education came at a time when a number of major change initiatives were thrust upon schools,” Ms MacDonald continued.

“Many of these changes are ongoing and involve significant additional workload and responsibilities for teachers. They have been implemented without any consideration of their impact on the welfare of teachers.”

Ms MacDonald, a maths and SPHE teacher in Coláiste Éamonn Rís in Wexford, said recent research had found a “worrying decline” in teacher morale, and proved that work pressures had become unsustainable for second-level teachers.

“Generations of Irish students have received a premium quality education and we want to ensure this continues to be the case. Unless we address the issues of teacher workload, teachers’ health, and the injustice of pay inequality, our young people will not get the world class education they need and deserve,” she finished.

As well as her teaching role, Ms MacDonald is also an expert in health promotion, specialising in mental health promotion and workplace health promotion, working on national and European projects and addressing international conferences on these issues.

The ASTI represents just under 17,000 second-level teachers.

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