ASTI advises members to hold off working on predicted grades for Leaving Cert students 1 month ago

ASTI advises members to hold off working on predicted grades for Leaving Cert students

Members of the biggest union of secondary school teachers in Ireland have been advised not to undertake any work on the predicted grades process for now.

The Association of Secondary School Teachers of Ireland (ASTI), the largest representative body of secondary teachers in Ireland, has advised its members not to engage with the process of predicted grades for Leaving Cert students.

In a statement on Thursday night, the ASTI said that, upon legal advice, the indemnity offered to teachers to protect them against the threat of legal action “falls short of what is required and could potentially lead to personal liabilities for costs for second level teachers”.

Such a position was described as “unacceptable” by the ASTI, who said it sought to have full indemnity available for its members while they undertook the process in good faith.

The ASTI statement follows the publication of guidelines on the new system of calculated grades for the 2020 Leaving Certificate by the Department of Education on Thursday.

According to Minister for Education Joe McHugh, the guidelines were published following “intensive work and engagement by the Department, teachers and school management in recent days”.

The guidelines, which can be read in full here, include advice on information that teachers should use to inform a school’s judgements about predicted grades, guidance on how teachers can work together to ensure alignment of marks across students and classes in schools, and details about how principals will oversee the process within schools.

It also includes rules on reporting instances to the Department of Education, the situation of external candidates and, regarding the issue of teacher indemnity, the guidelines state that “arrangements have been put in place to extend a State indemnity to them and to the boards of management of their schools”.

While the ASTI recognised the need for the predicted grades process in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and said it has engaged with the Department of Education to ensure that it can be rolled out as quickly as possible, the issue of teacher indemnity has proved a major sticking point.

“We will continue to engage with the Department of Education and Skills to secure the necessary provisions,” the ASTI statement concluded.

“In the meantime, we are advising ASTI members not to undertake any work on the process until this issue is resolved.”