What do you think is the INTO’s biggest challenge in the next few years?
In our series of questions to the INTO President candidates, we wonder what the biggest challenges are ahead.
For our members North and South, pay is the key issue for the next 12 months.
Members in Northern Ireland have been insulted by the outgoing Minister with the offer of a 0% pay ‘increase’. Having had an effective pay cut of 15% over the past 6 years, they quite rightly rejected it and embarked on a campaign of industrial action – both strike action and a withdrawal of cooperation with the Inspectorate. That campaign will have to be stepped up in coming months and will have to be brought to a successful conclusion.
In the Republic, the ending of pay inequality, the restoration of pay cuts and the payment of moneys owed such as the Principals’ benchmarking award have to top our agenda. The question of pay is intrinsic to dealing with all other issues. When any new initiative or addition to our workload comes along – be that from DES, Teaching Council or wherever – our first response should be to ask how much we will be paid to consider it.
I prefer to view the future as an opportunity for action and for positive change rather than a challenge. And I never plan too far ahead. I believe that with the right leadership the INTO will deliver 21st century systems by 2021 through a combination of agitation, lobbying, awareness raising, persuasion and negotiation.
The levelling off in pupil population will provide a great chance for INTO to progress staffing issues at no huge cost – for example as the pupil population reduces class sizes can be reduced by keeping all of the “spare” teachers in the system, panels of supply teachers to cover all absences and to cover principals administrative release days can also be formed.
I am determined to be INTO President at the forthcoming public service talks in order to restore salaries in the Republic of Ireland to 2008 levels, to secure the payment of the school leaders benchmarking award and to introduce planning time within the 183 day school year instead of the much-maligned Croke Park hours.
I see the next few years as a great opportunity to restore 21st century terms and conditions for teachers and pupils north and south and beyond then, I have great hope for the future of INTO.