Hundreds of schools waiting for reopening: The teachers’ dispute yet to resolve.

Gayathri | Friday, October 21, 2016 10:47 AM IST

Hundreds of schools waiting for reopening: The teachers’ dispute yet to resolve.

Hundreds of secondary schools are unlikely to reopen following the mid-term break unless a teachers’ dispute is resolved, school managers have warned.

School management bodies met on Thursday to discuss contingency plans to cope with the planned withdrawal from supervision and substitution duties by members of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) as part of an industrial row over pay and conditions.

The first of seven one-day strikes in the dispute is due to take place next Thursday, and is set to close up to 525 – or two out of three – secondary schools.

However, the planned withdrawal of supervision and substitution by ASTI members from Monday, November 7th, has the potential to close these schools indefinitely.

This is because schools would be unable to open on health and safety grounds in the absence of personnel to supervise break-times and fill in for absent teachers.

While contingency plans involving the recruitment of parents and other members of the public to fulfil these functions are under way, the biggest school management body in the State said on Thursday it would be impossible for most of its schools to implement them.

The Joint Managerial Body (JMB) – which manages half of all secondary schools – said the ASTI’s directive to members to withdraw from supervision duties extends to principals and deputy principals.

John Curtis, the JMB’s general secretary, said these principals were crucial to the implementation of contingency plans, such as hiring external supervisors.

In their absence, it was being left to members of the schools’ boards of management – who serve on a voluntary basis – to implement these plans.