A total of 17 teachers are due to boycott a parent-teacher meeting at St Killian’s College tonight (Wednesday November 30) due to industrial action.
The move is in support of action over pay launched by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO).
Parents of Year 10 pupils at St Killian’s received a text on Monday afternoon informing them that “some teachers will not be available” at the meeting, accompanied by a list of the names of teachers taking part in industrial action.
The text also apologised for “any inconvenience caused.”
However, one mother of a St Killian’s pupil said that the decision to go ahead with the parent-teacher meeting despite industrial action had “caused a lot of major inconvenience.”
“Year 10 is an important year for the children as it is the year before their GCSEs start, so part of the reason parents are going is to talk to teachers to see if their child is capable of doing well in a subject,” she stated.
“However, some teachers from key subjects will be missing and that means that parents will be missing out on information which could be key to helping their child make a choice.
“It would have been more practical to reschedule to give parents the opportunity to speak to all the teachers at one time.
“The news that some teachers won’t be there is very last minute, and people need to make arrangements as some may think it’s not worth going.
“Parents don’t have endless time and the school isn’t situated in the town so it’s not handy.
“If more of my child’s teachers had decided not to attend the event I would be furious,” she concluded.
INTO’s Assistant Northern Secretary Mark McTaggart said that the union’s teachers “will work within the time of the school” but that they had been directed to complete after school work at their own “time and place of choosing.”
“We have asked that schools make arrangements for parent teacher meetings to take place during contact time rather than evening or after school,” he continued
“This school had the opportunity to make arrangements to enable teachers to attend and they have failed to do so.”
Mr McTaggart also said that the text sent out to parents by St Killian’s College shouldn’t have named the teachers involved in the action.
“We would expect the school to make arrangements and we would have expected they would have information going out to parents that wouldn’t identify members,” he added.
In a statement, INTO’s Northern secretary Gerry Murphy said the union was balloting its members over strike action and withdrawing its cooperation from the Education and Training Inspectorate in a further escalation of its campaign for wage increases for teachers.
“INTO members, along with every other teacher, have been denied any wage increase for 2015/16 year, despite the Minister’s claims to the contrary, and offered a mean one per cent for the 2016/17 year,” said Mr Murphy.
“This despite all other teachers in the education sector in NI and every jurisdiction across these islands receiving a pay increase for the 2015/16 year.
“It’s wholly unacceptable acceptable that teachers who have seen the value of their take home pay reduced by at least 15 per cent since 2010/11 are being treated in such a dismissive fashion.
“Adding insult to injury teacher workloads have been increasing year on year as they fire fight the negative consequences of cuts to the education budget.”
In addition to INTO, the Ulster Teacher’s Union and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers are also due to ballot their members, while the NASUWT union had scheduled a strike day in schools across Belfast and Newtownabbey for yesterday (Wednesday November 30).
“This is a demonstration of teacher unity on a scale seldom seen before,” Mr Murphy continued.
“INTO does not take this step lightly we are cognisant of the potential disruption further industrial action will cause for the pupils and their parents but we are left with no option.”
No-one at St Killian’s College was available for comment at the time of going to press.