Two big teaching unions in Ireland are to ballot for action over the introduction of new curricular and testing arrangement which they say have not been funded or consulted on properly.

Although many teachers agree that the 25 year old Junior Certificate system for secondary age students needs to be reformed, the unions are angry that sweeping changes have been announced without consulatation. ASTI and TUI are balloting jointly for action which will include non-co-operation with the new arrangements. 

In a joint statement, the two unions say:' Members of the ASTI and the TUI are concerned about the time scale for the introduction of the proposals and the capacity of second-level schools to implement significant change in the context of schools having been stripped of vital resources.'

Education in Ireland has suffered huge cuts since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008 which hit Ireland particularly hard. As we reported last year, when ASTI were taking action against the latest measures from the government, which would see yet more cuts: Ireland is one of the Eurozone countries, which has been hit hardest by the crisis since 2008. Formerly known as the 'celtic tiger' economy, because of huge growth fuelled by the financial sector, the government agreed to a bailout, which came with the usual baggage of massive cuts to the public sector. Teachers have been in the forefront of the fight against cuts in the country.

Now according to one blog, teachers are 'mad as hell' about the latest developments with the Junior Certificate. As well as the lack of respect for teachers' views and the lack of resources, the blogger says that they have only had one day's training to implement what are major changes. Moreover the writer takes offence at the kind of derogatory comments which teachers so often have to put up with: 

'I’m tired of being told that it’s reason for being is it replaces the rote learning I’m drilling into my students every day. That’s an insult to any English teacher who stands in front of students having a conversation with students every day: a conversation about poetry, prose or fiction, a conversation about what it means to be a good writer, or how do communicate with each other.'

Teachers also have a justifiable fear that the new standardised testing system could lead to league tables and comparisons between schools, of the sort which 'plague teachers in the US and England.'

The results of the joint ballots will be announced on March 26th.