JobBridge for Qualified Teachers: Important Survey

We have been working on a JobBridge for Qualified Teachers survey over the past few weeks, and have it ready for you now.

Here it is


Please complete it and share it with all of your friends and contacts.

Thank you very much.

We will share our findings with you in a few weeks, when the survey closes.


Thank you also to everyone who completed our short Special Needs Survey


We have had an excellent response rate (over 520 so far) and more coming in every day. If you have not completed it, please do so now.

We will close that survey in about one more week and post the results here for you to see.

In the meantime, please keep sharing both surveys far and wide.

Thank you.



INTO Special Congress to issue new directive against Droichead?

A Special INTO Congress will be held on Sat. 21st October to discuss a motion calling for the reintroduction of a directive against participation in and cooperation with the Teaching Council’s new Droichead scheme for the probation/induction of NQTs.  The Special Congress comes about as a result of a groundswell of opposition to the decision by the union’s CEC to lift the directive against Droichead participation last May.

This CEC decision resulted in an unprecedented move from union activists to call special District meetings to demand a Special Congress.  In fact during late May/ early June 11 of the 14 Districts affected (Districts 1 and 2 are in Northern Ireland and not affected by this issue) passed the following motion:


a) rejects the interpretation that the “Droichead: The Integrated Professional Induction Framework” is not evaluative;

b) notes with concern that evaluation of NQTs by colleagues still exists under this new framework within the Joint Declaration;

c) demands that participation in PST must be properly resourced, funded and remunerated;

d) instructs the CEC to ballot all members, within the next school calendar month, on a directive not to participate in, or cooperate with,Droichead or any form of probation/induction as part of the Teaching Council registration process unless and until appropriate resourcing and remuneration is agreed and all aspects of peer evaluation are removed.

 Depth of feeling

This motion will now be discussed at the Special Congress and, if passed, members will be asked to ballot for a directive to withdraw cooperation with Droichead.  All members who were delegates to Congress ’17 in Belfast will be delegates to this Congress.  If any are unable to make it, branches can nominate substitute delegates in their place.

Rule 20 of the INTO’s Constitution allows for a Special Congress to be called if requisitioned by 6 District Committees.  This is the first time that a Special Congress on any issue has been called using this process.  As such it reflects the depth of feeling among the members on Droichead and on the manner in which the CEC lifted the directive in May.


The strong belief that the new Droichead policy still contains an element of evaluation – despite claims by the Teaching Council to the contrary – is one of the key concerns among members.  At the conclusion of the process the NQT and members of the Professional Support Team (ie her/his teaching colleagues) are asked to sign a Joint Declaration that states “We have reflected jointly, and believe that the information given above is accurate. Through our engagement in Droichead, we believe that we have participated in a quality teaching and learning process. We ask that the Teaching Council reflect this on the register.”

The Teaching Council claim that this is not evaluative but many teachers have raised concerns regarding what a mentor/member of the PST should do in the context where s/he does not believe that the NQT has ‘participated in a quality teaching and learning process’.  By having to make that value judgement, that surely involves the PST member in making an evaluation, even if the TC calls it non-evaluative.  If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck chances are that it is a duck…


The lack of any remuneration for principals or members of the Professional Support Team for the work involved in implementing Droichead in their school is another huge issue.  By allowing the rollout of Droichead to proceed without remuneration we, as teachers, would effectively be taking on work that DES inspectors used to do.  And we would be doing it for free.  Surely it is a basic trade union principle that we should not be taking on extra work without being paid for it.

The real tragedy is that those elected and appointed to the Teaching Council to represent teachers constitute a majority on the Council.  If all those directly elected by teachers or appointed by our unions to the Council had voted to support the proposal that Droichead should not be rolled out until remuneration was agreed when it came before the Council, we would not be in this position.  Clearly some of those supposedly representing the interests of teachers on the Teaching Council have questions to answer.

TUI directive

Before the summer, TUI members voted in support of a directive not to participate in or cooperate with Droichead.  Hopefully following this Special Congress INTO too will take a strong stance and deliver a message back to the Teaching Council that Droichead in its current format is still unacceptable and we will not be implementing it.


DES Saves €49.5 million due to lack of substitute teachers




While discrimination against new teachers on unequal payscales remains, due to DES “inability to pay” with budget constraints?

Teaching Council (TC) collated data released by the DES on 9/6/17 reveals that only 64% of substitutable absences were filled in the academic years from 2010/11 to 2014/15.


The number of substitutable days for those years was 915,000 on average, but a massive problem with teacher supply meant that schools could access qualified teachers for only an annual average of 590,000 days.

The DES therefore saved on paying substitute teachers at primary level for on average 325,000 days each year from at least 2010/11 to 2014/15, the range of the report.

The daily casual rate for qualified subs had been up to €195 but was decimated to €152.22 from 1/2/12 for new entrants, with various partial restorations over recent years.

If we take the lowest rate of pay applicable at the time (€152.22), which is generous to the extreme for calculation purposes, this would see the DES saving a whopping 49.5million every year at just the primary sector over the years for which the TC Technical Working Group (TWG) collated data.

There is no doubt as to the heightened and critical lack of subs in our schools in the past two years now, so this €49.5million figure as a saving per year can only be MASSIVELY increased in reality.


Our children should have been taught by qualified teachers. We can’t turn back time but we CAN do our best to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
National supply panels are essential. It is NOT acceptable that a “stop-gap” temporary fix, as proposed by Minister Bruton, including final year students-teachers and retired teachers stepping in to address teacher supply, be allowed:

This approach is the absolute antithesis of Minister Bruton’s aspirations to attaining a top quality education system in Ireland.

The DES has now saved a significant fortune (considerably underestimated in figures here) from annual budgets at the expense of children’s education, while claiming not to have had the funds under annual budgetary limitations to address pressing needs:

That money “saved” from the primary teaching sector alone could return school funding to the level it was at before austerity (approx. 30 million), pay equality for the whole public service (approx. 200 million), outstanding benchmarking (one decade late) for primary principals and DPs, remuneration for extra work expected for free under “Droichead”, and then some!

And finally: Why did the DES sit on the Teaching Council Teacher Supply report for a year and a half, which it received in December 2015, only to release it one day after a new pay deal was brokered, on June 9th, 2017?


How Inequality Destroys Society.

#NewEntrants #HowInequalityDestroysSociety


The idea that Government could treat current and new “entrants” differently is having a devastating effect on Irish society. Here are only a few of the many examples –


(1) In 2005, Noel Dempsey (FF) Minister for Education and Science decided to get rid of resource hours for children diagnosed with dyslexia and also those diagnosed with intellectual difficulties (Mild Learning Difficulty – which is not “mild” at all). He allowed those who had the resource hours to keep them. All new diagnoses (“new entrants”) would be without resource hours.


(2) In 2011 and again in 2012, new entrants to the public service had their pay slashed, but those currently in the job stayed on their old salary scale.


(3) 2012 teacher graduates had their qualification allowances taken away, despite working towards them and having an expectation of receiving them). Current teachers kept them.


(4) Today, 8/7/2016, the Irish Times tells us that patients currently being given an expensive cancer drug will still be given it, but “new entrants” will not.


Accepting the different treatment of “some”, the different treatment of “others” has led us to a society where some cancer patients are treated differently to others.


Everyone in society must fight inequality. As teachers, we must fight too and we must fight the inequality in our own back yard (the different treatment of “some” of our colleagues). It is disgusting and it is wrong to discriminate against people.


Government and Unions take note. We have had enough.




Teachers Bullied by Government, ASTI stand up.

The words below are from the inspirational Noelle Moran ASTI, who posted them as a comment on our VFT Facebook page.

We felt that her words deserved more space, so here they are. Well done, Noelle and ASTI. We call on all Teacher Unions to stand up against Government bullying of teachers. (The article to which Noelle refers is linked at the end of this piece). Thank you, Noelle. Solidarity with ASTI.

Noel Moran: “As the person interviewed for this article, I was disappointed that some points made by me over the phone to contribute to this article did not make it to the finished piece and there are others presented here I feel need clarification. There are also inaccuracies here I want to correct. As a result I wrote this piece and copied it beneath the article on journal.ie, and as it was done, I decided to copy it here. Most people on this page are teaching and are very familiar with the situation but this is for those of you who are not and want more information on what all of this is about:

1. During the term of the Croke Park Agreement 2010-2013 inferior pay rates were introduced for new entrants to the public service in 2011 and 2012. It emerged that the terms of the Agreement did not extend to new entrants which enabled the government to impose this inequality. Unions did not sign new entrants up to inferior pay scales. Pay Agreements mean the unions agree not to take industrial action on issues and as such this issue was not acted upon during the term of CPA. One of the key reasons ASTI recommended rejection of the following agreement, the Haddington Road Agreement 2013 to June 2016 was so that outside of a collective bargaining agreement we could take industrial action so that the government would address this issue. Regrettably on the expiration of the CPA other unions did not remain outside of the HRA so that we could deal with this issue collectively, given that it is a public service wide issue and not just affecting teachers. In spite of a recommendation for ASTI to reject HRA in a second ballot it was accepted and consequently, due to being party to a collective agreement with the government once again our hands were tied and we were not allowed to take industrial action to address the unequal pay. One of the primary reasons we have rejected the Lansdowne Road Agreement is to enable us to deal with this issue. Many people reading this post work in the public sector, and many others have family members who do so, and it is very unlikely people would deem it fair that two like colleagues, irrespective of the job type, should be paid on totally different pay scales. This is unjust. It should never have happened but will continue if we keep signing up to collective bargaining agreements preventing us from taking industrial action to restore a common basic pay scale for all working within a particular profession.

2. Casualisation is a huge problem in teaching with many teachers teaching part-time hours and being made permanent on less than full hours meaning they earn less than full salary. This has become an increased problem since 2004 although the article incorrectly refers to security for new entrants ‘forfeited in 2013’. Some teachers have contracts which will eventually lead to permanency; others do not. For those who do not have contracts leading to permanency, under HRA the government promised to establish a panel which teachers could have access to after a certain amount of service in different schools which would help them towards obtaining more secure employment. The promise of a panel was one of the very few positives promised by the government under HRA. They had 3 years to establish this panel but talks have not even commenced on setting this up. Teachers delivered on their commitments under HRA and the government reneged on theirs but still expect teachers to sign up to another agreement. This is unacceptable and hard to believe!

3. There was a paid substitution and supervision (S&S) scheme for teachers for approx. 12 years up until HRA. The S&S scheme covers yard duty and supervision of classes when teachers are away with teams etc. Under HRA, teachers agreed to do 3 years of this S&S unpaid for the duration of this agreement but written into HRA was a partial restoration of this pay in September 2016 and 2017. This was agreed to as part of HRA not LRA. It was not the case that teachers ‘thought that from June 2016’ we would get extra payment for these duties as this articles quotes me saying; it is that it was written into HRA that there would be partial restoration of this money in 2016 and 2017. There is nothing written into the HRA that this partial pay restoration was to be conditional on signing up to future agreements. Teachers have delivered on the 3 years free S&S as agreed under HRA, but after the event, the government is now saying it will renege on what was agreed to and is threatening not to pay us this money in 2016 and 2017 if we do not sign up to LRA.

4. The government intend to use FEMPI legislation (the questionable continued legal existence of this legislation is a separate issue) to freeze our incremental salary until 2018. They are also threatening redundancies and the ending of the teacher redeployment scheme, the withdrawal of a faster route to permanency for those who qualify for permanent CID contracts in addition to the threat not to make the S&S payments promised and agreed to. This list is not exhaustive. There are other threats, financial and otherwise and they have told us there will be future penalties in the medium term if we do not sign up to LRA. An interesting aspect to all of this is is there really a choice anymore? Our union had no say in what went into the Lansdowne Road ‘Agreement’; nor did most other unions. It was presented to us and we were expected to ballot but it currently looks like no union is allowed to actually reject these agreements. The result, as we are realising is a backdrop of threats. HRA was a sectoral agreement for all of the different groups of public sector workers. It is time for the government to revisit the idea of sectoral agreements as agreements dealing with Education, Health etc separately would have more benefits for those sectors than universal ‘one size fits all’ agreements. That said, these agreements will achieve nothing at all if the government chooses to renege on its side of the bargain. Our union has accepted an invitation to talks with the Minister to talk about issues of mutual concern. Hopefully, this will start a process to address the issues.

** On a separate note, the picture used to go with this article is one from a strike day at some point. Today was a Protest Day, during the school holidays as some people who posted comments have pointed out, and there were no strike placards used at the Dáil**

Thanks for taking the time to read this. The issues mentioned above are not all of the issues, but are the ones referred to in the article. I hope this puts some context around the reasons the ASTI has chosen not to sign up to LRA and is reacting to government threats under FEMPI and in general. Thanks to all who showed up at our Dáil Protest today and to all others who wished us well. The solidarity is much appreciated.”





INTO Presidential Election – interview with Gregor Kerr

Voice for Teachers’ readers will know that one of our admins is Gregor Kerr. He successfully ran for election to the Teaching Council earlier this year and now he has been persuaded to run for election as President of the INTO. We say persuaded, because that is what happened. Gregor never wants fame or glory (he fits in to VFT very well that way), he is all about teachers and their issues, all about empowerment of others, not about empowering himself.


Gregor has been a trade union, community and political activist for most of his adult life.  We decided to interview him about this and about why he has decided to run for INTO President at this time.


As it gets nearer to the time of the election, we will contact other candidates and offer to interview them and post the interviews here on VFT.


We would like this election to be open and inclusive, so if you have any questions that you would like Gregor or other candidates to answer, please feel free to submit them in comments below or as a pm to the page



VFT: Hi Gregor, are you delighted that you were persuaded to run for INTO President?

Gregor: I am actually.  When it was first suggested to me I laughed and said no, but as the idea was talked about and as the potential of a campaign became clear, I began to get excited about the possibilities. In the past half century or more there have only been two actual ballots of members on the position of President, once in 1978 and the last twenty five years ago in 1991.  The election campaign that is going to happen now provides an opportunity for a conversation about the direction of the union and about a vision of what the INTO should look like.


I hope that we can use the debate that will occur during the election campaign to help advance some issues and to empower and help organise union members.  I see this election as being about much more than electing me as President of the union (although that’s obviously a fairly important part of it), I see it as being about working with and energising a layer of activists in the union, about re-building a fighting spirit and about awakening our potential as union members working together to effect change.


Many of us are familiar with hearing members complaining about ‘the union’ and moaning that ‘the union’ hasn’t done anything about issue X, Y or Z.  My response to that has always been to say to people that ‘We’ are the Union. We – the members – can take ownership of issues and build campaigns from below, we shouldn’t be relying on the leadership or head office to do it for us.  This election campaign provides an opportunity to make more of a reality of that ‘We are the Union’ slogan – to have a dialogue about and to demonstrate in practical terms what it means.


VFT: Why now though? If there hasn’t been an election since 1991, and only two in the last half century, why decide that this year is the time to run?

Gregor:  Two reasons really.  Firstly I think the democratic deficit – the feeling of a growing divide between the members of the union and the leadership – has never been so great.  But secondly, and related perhaps, the energy being currently generated from a new layer of members getting active opens up a huge potential.


On the first of those issues – Congress, for the last number of years has been de-energising and frustrating for many delegates.  Battling to get issues affecting members onto the agenda, a feeling that the members’ views as expressed by delegates are often not listened to, that the majority of the CEC and the leadership see their role as being to tell the membership what to think and do rather than to listen to the membership and take instructions from them….


This year, however, Congress was like a breath of fresh air.  There was a huge infusion of energy, mainly from Lower Paid Teachers but also in terms of delegates’ input on other issues such as Droichead, Cosán etc.  The irony was that that infusion of energy also really showed up the huge divide – the CEC were comprehensively defeated by the votes of delegates on the issue of pay equalisation and the new pay deal, on Droichead, on Cosán.  There is something radically wrong with any organisation when the majority of delegates are on one side and the entire leadership is on the other.  Yet we’ve seen that in the INTO year after year.


And another reason why now – we are heading into a new round of pay talks.  These talks will be crucially important.  There is an imperative that pay equalisation must be achieved and the pay cuts imposed on teachers and other public servants be reversed.  I believe that in the coming months we have to build a groundswell of action and campaigning from below that will put pressure on both the union leadership and on politicians to face up to these issues.  We have to build a campaign that will force the government to the negotiating table.

Thanks to the fantastic work being done by the Project Group and by many Lower Paid Teachers and others, that groundswell has begun.  It can either be encouraged and built on, or it can be dampened down.  In my view it has to be encouraged and built on. In the case of both of the last two pay deals, the government came to us seeking early talks, this time round we should be demanding that talks happen sooner rather than later.  We cannot wait for the end of the Lansdowne Road Agreement, our Lower Paid Teachers can’t afford to wait that long. They have been waiting over five years already.

So an election campaign will inevitably lead to a debate about what it’s possible to achieve in relation to pay, and can contribute to helping to build the groundswell necessary to force early talks and to ensure that what comes out of those talks is nothing less than full pay equalisation – and a definite plan for full pay restoration for the rest of us as well.



VFT: How long have you been an activist in INTO? What campaigns have you been involved in?

Gregor: I qualified as a teacher in 1985, at a time of massive teacher unemployment and a time when substitute and temporary teachers were organising to fight for some of the rights we now take for granted.  In my early years in INTO I was a member of both Tallaght and Blessington branches.  Having subbed and temped for a number of years I got a job teaching teenage Travellers and was a member of the TUI for a number of years.


When I took up a temporary position (one which eventually became permanent) in what was then Plás Mhuire BNS on Dorset St. in Dublin’s inner city in the early 1990s I re-joined the INTO and became active in Dublin City North branch as it then was.  At that time there was a very active Substitute and Temporary Teachers Action Group which campaigned within the union on issues affecting Subs and Temps and in which I became involved. That group was an energising force in terms of bringing new members into activity, and was instrumental in gaining panel rights for temporary teachers.  There are many parallels with the dynamism and energy evident from Lower Paid Teachers today.


Indeed that group was also instrumental in campaigning for and eventually winning (albeit as a pilot project in just a small number of areas) a substitute supply panel – temporary teachers employed on year-long contracts and available to cover absences in a number of schools in an area.  Unfortunately, this was never advanced past being a pilot project and in recent years it was cut in a cost-saving exercise.  Campaigning for the establishment of such panels on a national basis is something we should put back on the agenda.


The school subsequently amalgamated with the neighbouring girls’ school and became St. Mary’s Primary School.  The union branch did the opposite – in order to encourage increased participation we split the branch in three, and the one in which I remained was named Dublin North City.  At the time I was Chair of District 14 and worked with a small sub-committee to successfully plan and oversee the division of the branch.


Over the years I have been involved in many, many INTO campaigns – a few that spring to mind are campaigns for increased funding; against cuts to DEIS; for the abolition of Section 37.1 of the Employment Equality Act; against the Work Placement programme and subsequently JobBridge; against CEPP (and subsequently Cosán).  For over 25 years I have been an active and vocal contributor to Congress on many issues, and – just as importantly – I have supported, encouraged and cajoled many others to get up and speak.

For that length of time I have also been a member of Branch and District Committee, and served as District Chair for a number of years.


I have campaigned against all of the recent pay agreements – LRA, HRA, Croke Park 1 and 2, and indeed have always opposed the concept of ‘social partnership’.  I believe that the idea that trade unions, employers and government have some sort of common ‘partnership’ is wrong and that the decades of ‘social partnership’ have blunted our union movement.    More often than not I have been on the losing side of many of those pay agreement debates, but I believe that the manner in which I and others have contributed to discussions, have provided analysis of ‘agreements’ and have engaged in robust but fair and honest debate has contributed to the democratic processes within our union.  Indeed I have always argued that information produced by head office and by the CEC should present both sides of the argument when we are discussing and deciding on pay deals.  I don’t know why we have a situation where all members of the CEC sing from the same hymn sheet on such deals.  I don’t think the sky would cave in if we allowed CEC members to campaign either for or against the deals based on their own views and those of the members in their Districts.  Seeing a couple of different perspectives coming from CEC members would surely only enhance the democratic process within the union.  That’s an issue I’d like to come back to again.


Within the union, and outside it, my underlying, and overarching philosophy has always been to encourage and support members (union members or community members) to get involved in campaigns, to work together and to bring a collective strength to efforts to bring about change.  I believe in a leadership that comes from below, in one that relies on a many-headed approach rather than relying on ‘someone else’ to take action or to provide leadership.


Too often too many people expect ‘someone else’ to solve their issues.  How often have you heard people saying ‘someone should do something about that’?  My belief is that we are all that ‘someone’ and that we should – as well as doing what we can ourselves – support and encourage others to get involved.  It’s not always easy for someone to speak up at a meeting for the first time, to volunteer to help organise a picket, to get involved.  But a leadership that wants to encourage involvement can create the space in which people can gain the energy and confidence to contribute.  And conversely a leadership that’s relatively content with the status quo can do the opposite and can suck the energy from people trying to organise.


So to sum up my attitude – I am vocal at meetings, I encourage others to speak up and to get involved.  But after the meeting I’m always there to help organise whatever actions might be decided upon.  Take an example – JobBridge.  When the Work Placement Programme was first mooted and it became clear that it was envisaged that NQTs would be ‘employed’ via this scheme to complete their probation, many NQTs were outraged.  I and others worked with and supported a number of NQTs who successfully (very much against the wishes of the majority of the CEC and head office) won an INTO position of a directive against participation in WPP.  When WPP subsequently became JobBridge, a new directive was fought for and issued.


Many of us naively believed that that would be the end of the matter.  However a small number of principals continued to advertise JobBridge positions in their schools despite the directive.  And when we enquired at Congress as to why this was being allowed to happen, we learned that it was up to individual members to make complaints under the Union’s disciplinary process against principals who we believed to be in breach of the directive.  It was a classic case of ‘Someone should do something about that’.  So we did.  A small number of us began to monitor the JobBridge website and to initiate cases against the principals of schools who advertised teaching positions there.


It wasn’t easy – it involved many hours of work initiating evidence-based complaints; communicating with District secretaries; engaging with Conciliators; preparing for and attending Arbitration hearings (at our own expense initially until we managed – eventually – to bring about a Rule change recently).  It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.  That work ensured that JobBridge did not gain a foothold in schools for teaching positions and did not become the established route into teaching for our NQTs.  Without that work from that small number of people, and the support we received from many others, we could be looking at a very different scenario today.  ‘Someone’ had to do it and I’m proud of the fact that I was one of those that did.


VFT: Can you tell us what other campaigns, outside of INTO, you have been active in?

Gregor:  One of the first campaigns I was involved in was the Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid strike.  I was only peripherally involved, attending the picket line on an number of occasions and some of the big protests, but I was hugely impressed by a group of workers who were willing to make a sacrifice and put their livelihoods on the line in support of people suffering injustice on the other side of the world (for those of you too young to remember – RTE produced a great documentary on the issue which you can see at http://www.rte.ie/tv/scannal/Dunnes.html).  Looking back now, over 30 years later, I would still label that group of workers as my heroes – people who took a not very easy stance, at great personal cost, because they saw something as being wrong.


In the almost 30 years since, I have been involved in a huge number of trade union, community and political campaigns.

I campaigned for the release of the Birmingham 6 and Guildford 4 in the late 1980s.

In the early 1990s I was a founder member of the Portobello Unemployed Action Group which organised unemployed people to fight for jobs and against the unemployment crisis.

I was secretary of the Federation of Dublin Anti Water Charge Campaigns which successfully fought the introduction of water charges in the early to mid-1990s.

I was a founder member of the Anti-Racism Campaign (ARC) in the late 1990s which campaigned against racism and deportations and for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.  ARC campaigned against the introduction of direct provision and I was actually arrested at a peaceful direct action occupation of then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s office in protest against direct provision proposals.

I was secretary of Trade Unionists and Unemployed against the Programme, a cross union group of shop stewards and activists which campaigned against the Programme for National Recovery in the early 1990s and was involved in Trade Union Fightback, which similarly campaigned against ‘social partnership’, and Teachers United, a short-lived grouping which aimed to bring activists together across all 3 teacher unions.

In recent years, I have campaigned against the household tax and water charges, I have been a member of the Greyhound Workers Support Group and worked to support the Paris Bakery Workers when they occupied the premises on Moore Street when the business was closed suddenly, and the group of young, mostly migrant workers were owed thousands of euros in unpaid wages. I was an active participant in the Yes Equality Campaign and I am a member of the Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.  Like dozens of others, I was arrested at a peaceful direct action protest against water meter installation last year.  Again like dozens of others I wasn’t charged with any offence.


That just gives a flavour of some of the things I’ve been involved in – some successful, some not – but the common link is about building competence and confidence, encouraging local organising and encouraging people to become agents of and for change.  If anyone wants to do a quick google search of my name they’ll get a flavour of some of the issues.



VFT: Are you a member of any political party?

Gregor: No. I was a member of Workers Solidarity Movement for about 20 years but left it about a year and a half ago.  Again, if people want to do a search of the wsm.ie site or just use google they’ll get an idea of some of the things I’ve said, written and been involved in over the years.


VFT: On a light note, do you have any book or music that you would reckon influenced your political views?

Gregor: If you haven’t read ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ by Robert Tressell, first published in 1914, do yourself a favour and do so.

Could I please finish with a paraphrase of a quote from philosopher Albert Camus that sums up my attitude to this election campaign and to the union Presidency –

“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow

Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead

Walk beside me… and let’s Organise together”

Greg photo (2)


Droichead Ballot – Reasons to Vote Yes

(Please Note this article is attached as a 2-page word document at the end.  Please consider printing it off and distributing it to your staff)

Reasons to Vote Yes in the Droichead Ballot


This document looks at the Droichead “positives” and “negatives”, (based on the recent INTO Eolas and accompanying FAQs) and after considering both asks you to vote YES for a Directive against Droichead.


You will be asked to vote on this CEC wording – Do you agree to participate in industrial action, with effect from 1 July 2016, in the form of a directive to be issued by the Central Executive Committee on non-cooperation with Droichead, or any form of probation/induction as part of the Teaching Council registration process that does not include fully external evaluation for all NQTs?

                               Positives                                           Negatives
There has been a re-focus of Droichead to induction rather than probation.  

A change of name from probation to induction changes nothing for INTO members who have steadfastly spoken out against Droichead and CEPP before it. Teachers are not willing to judge / be responsible for our NQT colleagues’ ability to teach.


The recognition of SEN settings for full registration meaning that service in special schools, learning support, resource posts and a combination of resource and learning support would be recognised for full registration and eligibility for panel rights on the same basis as service in mainstream classes. We do not need Droichead to achieve this. The Teaching Council can recognise such service for full registration without Droichead.
A reduction in the service requirement to one block of 60 days from 100/120 days recognising the 50 day school placement undertaken by student teachers in the extended teacher education courses.  

This is a misleading claim. The block of 60 days is the “absolute minimum” and there is no guarantee that an NQT will complete their “induction” within 60 days. To quote page 6 of the Teaching Council’s own recent document on Droichead: “Ideally, the NQT will undertake the Droichead process for the duration of the time that they are in the position recognised for the Droichead process” …”It should be noted that these are absolute minimum periods of practice and the Council believes that, where the period of an NQT’s practice in a school exceeds those thresholds, it is advisable to defer the making of a recommendation until nearer the end of their time at the school.”


A reduction in the requirement for NQTs to attend NIPT cluster meetings from 10 to 3.  

Again, we don’t need Droichead for this. The Teaching Council can reduce the NIPT requirements without Droichead.


The removal of any obligation on the Principal, any staff member or any mentor to “sign off” on the NQT and the retention of an external panel for “sign off” for Droichead schools.  

Again, this is misleading.

The Principal must be a member of the Professional Support Team (PST).

The Principal is responsible for establishing the PST.

All members of the PST (that means the Principal too) must interact with the NQT during the Droichead process.

The PST decides if the NQT is “ready” to progress to the next phase of induction.

The Principal must discuss the Droichead process with the Droichead Quality Assurance (DQA) panel.

The Principal is the one who must ensure that the Droichead process has been properly conducted – is that not “signing off”?

Other staff members / mentors are given serious extra workload and responsibility for no reward.

The Principal may establish a PST of internal school staff and one external PST member. There are still internal staff involved in this option. The Principal is still involved.

If it is acceptable to have external members, why not let all members of the PST be external? Why not second Teachers to do this work and pay them properly for it?



For the coming year NQTs who meet the normal service requirements of 100/120 days in mainstream classes can apply to Limerick Education Centre to have their competence verified by an inspector. They will also have to meet induction requirements.


– If we vote YES in this ballot, NQTs can be probated as normal.
NQTs who begin work in special schools, special classes or in special education settings will not have access to probation. This means that teachers will not be able to complete full registration is these settings. In this context, they will remain unable to access the supplementary panel.  

– The Council’s Droichead document states: “other than in exceptional circumstances, schools should employ NQTs in a mainstream setting” and in a case where an NQT is employed in a special class, in a special school, or in Resource or Learning Support positions the school should “endeavour that there are opportunities for the NQT to teach in a mainstream setting which would include the teaching and learning of Gaeilge.”  Therefore, Droichead may or may not mean NQTs in special settings will have access to probation. It is unclear.

– We can lobby the INTO and the Teaching Council to allow NQTs in special settings to be probated. It shouldn’t be too hard to achieve, because on 4/1/2016, the Teaching Council already announced the granting of full registration to teachers probated in a restricted setting starting in September 2016.


Teachers can mentor NQTs through Droichead.  

Teachers have always mentored NQTs and can continue to do it without Droichead.


Droichead is intended to replace probation currently carried out by the DES Inspectorate.  

– Droichead attempts to move probation (induction) over to Teachers, but not to pay Teachers for this extra work.

– Droichead attempts to move probation (induction) from paid (the Inspectorate) to unpaid (Teachers) work.

– Droichead frees up the DES Inspectorate to surprise Teachers with sudden inspections.

– Droichead is bound to have negative implications for staff relations.

– Principals fear the next step will be Principals having to sign off on all staff (perhaps annually) for Teachers to retain registration / be paid increments.


Under the Teaching Council Act, the Teaching Council is required to make arrangements for the induction/probation of NQTs.  

The Council can make arrangements for the induction / probation of NQTs without increasing the workload of serving Teachers. The answer is simple – provide an external team through seconding Teachers to replace the DES Inspectorate for the purposes of probation / induction.


The Council developed Droichead and piloted it in a number of schools on a voluntary basis since 2013.  

During Congress 2016, the majority of Principals present who took part in the Droichead pilot warned against it.


Droichead is for the benefit of NQTs  

During Congress 2016, the vast majority of NQTs who spoke about Droichead were against it.

NQTs will be forced to implement Droichead (unpaid) over a long career, as part of their job, if we agree to it now.


Teachers who complete Droichead can be fully registered with the Teaching Council.  

Teachers who do not complete Droichead can be fully registered with the Teaching Council.


From September, 2016 Droichead will be the only route to registration for NQTs in special schools and classes and resource and would be available to teachers in Learning Support and Learning Support/ Resource posts.

From September 2017, Droichead will be the only route to registration for NQTs in large schools.

From September, 2018 Droichead will be the route to registration for all new teachers.

New members have now been elected to the Teaching Council. Together with INTO, our TC Reps can work to change any deadlines of Droichead in its current form.

We (and the Teaching Council) can use this interim time to organise external methods of probation / induction.


During Congress 2016, this motion was overwhelmingly supported by INTO members –


  1. rejects the Droichead, An Integrated Induction Framework for Newly Qualified Teachers document published in March 2016;
  2. demands that mentoring of NQTs is properly resourced, funded and remunerated;
  3. further demands that probation/induction of all NQTs be evaluated externally through a panel of seconded teachers and/or principals funded by the DES; and
  4. instructs the CEC to ballot all members on a directive not to participate in, or cooperate with, Droichead or any form of probation/induction as part of the Teaching Council registration process that does not include fully external evaluation for all NQTs with effect from 1 July 2016.

INTO members have consistently rejected Droichead and CEPP before it.

Please vote YES in this ballot to issue a Directive against Droichead.reasons-to-vote-yes-in-the-droichead-ballot-7 (1)


Droichead. An integrated induction framework for newly qualified teachers: Voice for Teachers Analysis and Critical Response Report.

In this Report, Voice for Teachers examines the Teaching Council’s recent document on Droichead.

Note: the TC document upon which this VFT Report is based was published by the Teaching Council in March 2016, just before the new Teaching Council representatives took office.

1.0         The TC Droichead Framework Displays a Lack of Respect:

1.1         Lack of Respect for Teachers:

The TC wastes no time in insulting teachers and demonstrating its contempt for the professional status of newly qualified teachers by describing induction as “a socialisation process”(p.2). We socialise our pets, we do not socialise our professional colleagues.

1.2         Lack of Respect for the Inspectorate:

The TC then goes on to insult the DES Inspectorate by explaining to us that “the NQTs’ experienced fellow professionals are best placed to support them through the induction phase” (p.2). The DES Inspectorate have been responsible for the probation / induction of NQTs for decades. We now learn that apparently they were not the best people to do that work.

2.0         Unfairness and Inequality for NQTs:

The careful phrases used throughout this document are a worry – words like “normally”; “a number” and “As a general rule” lead us to conclude that the TC plans to continue with its loop-hole ridden modus operandi. Loop-holes for some only that is, others will have to rigorously adhere to rule and jump through every hoop. This signals inherent unfairness in this process from the outset. Indeed, depending on the school setting and how rigorously this document is applied:

  • Some NQTs will have “at least two classroom observations” (p.5), while others will have an unstated number of visits.
  • During the process “an NQT will have a number of interactions with all members of the PST, called professional conversations” (p.4). The number is not numbered, therefore, one NQT may have many such meetings, others may have few.
  • The NQT observes other teachers during the process, “at least two classroom observations carried out by the NQT” (p.5). Again, there is an opportunity for difference / inequality here.
  • “Droichead allows for a large measure of flexibility in the creation of Taisce” (p.5). Once again there is scope here for unequal treatment across the country. The TC calls it “flexibility”, we call it loop-holes capable of causing inequality.
  • Some NQTs will complete this phase within 60 days, but others “will undertake the Droichead process for the duration of the time that they are in the position recognised for the Droichead process” (p.6).
  • All NQTs are required to attend cluster meetings and “one other professional learning activity” (p. 6). The examples given may be freely available in urban settings, but not in rural settings, once again discriminating against some NQTs.
  • The Quality Assurance outlined on pages 7 and 8 is far too vague.


3.0         Droichead is Better than the Current System, Or Is It?

The TC is claiming that Droichead is better than the current system, but they would wouldn’t they. We have analysed the TC Droichead document in some depth and we disagree. We find many, many flaws in Droichead.

Teachers are already involved in the Induction of our NQTs, and have been for decades. Droichead offers nothing new, except more paperwork, constant observations of NQTs (instead of two visits now) and much more work for teachers. An ESRI Report looked at Droichead, but failed to ask very pertinent questions, such as “Is Droichead better than the current system of probation?” The question cannot be answered by the ESRI Report, because it was not asked, it was not part of the Research Design utilised by the ESRI. We believe that it should have been one of the most important research questions for the ESRI to include during their planning stage (Research Design). The fact that it was not included is very concerning.

3.1         Unfairness and Inequality for NQTs:

Already discussed above at 2.0

3.2         The Inspectorate:

The dreaded knock on the door from the cigire is referenced by some people as a negative aspect of the current system, but NQTs will still have the possibility of such a visit. The current system of probation consists of the Inspectorate visiting every NQT. Droichead involves the Inspectorate visiting failing NQTs, making it obvious to the community that the NQT is failing.

3.3         Teaching Settings:

The current system does not allow unprobated teachers to teach / complete probation as an LST. We don’t need Droichead to change that silly anomaly, it could be changed in the morning.

Droichead says it allows induction as an LST, but also confusingly tells us: “A primary teacher will normally undertake the Droichead process when employed as a mainstream class teacher” (p.2). (Note: the TC emboldened the word “normally”). The document continues later to state: “Other than in exceptional circumstances, schools should deploy NQTs in a mainstream setting” (p.2). “As part of the Droichead process, the school should also endeavour that there are opportunities for the newly qualified teacher to teach in a mainstream setting” (p.2-3). More loop-holes and double-speak from the TC?

3.4         60 Days instead of 100 Days:

The current system requires two 50 day periods of employment or one 100 day stint. Droichead consists of an unknown number of days. NQTs need to be very, very wary of the 60 day claim. The TC give the impression that probation / induction can be completed in one 60 day period, but that is not the full story. This TC document talks about “phases”, but does not explicitly state how long each phase will actually take.

The “minimum requirements of post-qualification practice” is 60 consecutive school days for primary teachers and 200 hours for post-primary teachers. (Note: the bold and underline is ours). The TC does not tell us what the maximum requirement or the actual requirement might be. The document does state, however, that “Ideally, the NQT will undertake the Droichead process for the duration of the time that they are in the position recognised for the Droichead process” (p.6).

This quote indicates a very open time-frame. Later, the document states: “It should be noted that these are absolute minimum periods of practice and the Council believes that, where the period of an NQT’s practice in a school exceeds those thresholds, it is advisable to defer the making of a recommendation until nearer the end of their time at the school” (p.6).

If the PST decide that the NQT is NOT ready to progress to the next phase of probation / induction, then the time must be extended even further. “It is open to the PST to recommend an additional period of professional practice, so that the NQT may avail of further supports to aid their development (p.6). There is no exact time specified. It might be another 60 days? It might be much longer? The NQT could be involved with Droichead for quite some time. “When the NQT has completed their Droichead process, and the consensus of the PST is that they are ready to move to the next phase on the continuum of teacher education, the PST makes a recommendation to the Teaching Council to that effect” (p.4).  Therefore, we can only surmise that we should take that 60 days / 200 hours claim with a pinch of salt.

Currently, NQTs in Primary schools find it very difficult to find 50 consecutive school days in which they can complete half of their probation / induction. Finding 60 consecutive school days minimum, will obviously be even harder for primary teachers to find. Currently, the inspector visits the NQT before the 50 /100 days expire. With Droichead, the process is unlikely to be shorter than the current system. NQTs should be wary about believing any such claim.

3.5         Droichead Pay:

In the current system, the NQT is paid as a fully qualified teacher. Will NQTs completing Droichead be paid as fully qualified teachers? Will NQTs be paid at all? The TC have failed to outlaw JobBridge, so are they planning to use Droichead as a form of JobBridge, to recruit NQTs as Interns? This is all very uncertain. The quote on page 2 allows for obfuscation: “A primary teacher will normally undertake the Droichead process when employed as a mainstream class teacher”. Other TC announcements regarding guaranteed placements for NQTs is very alarming indeed. Guaranteed Placement in other countries usually means that NQTs are allocated to schools  immediately after they get their final results. Is it for 60 days? A year? Do the NQTs displace other Temporary Teachers? Are NQTs given preference for maternity leaves etc…? Are NQTs interviewed for this guaranteed placement? Will NQTs displace other teachers? Will NQTs be ex-quota? If the NQT is not satisfactory, does the school still have to accept them on a “guaranteed placement”? Along with a great many other things about Droichead, this needs to be better explained and made explicit. We cannot just guess as to what the TC intends with Droichead. NQTs cannot be lured into Droichead with unproven promises.

(Note: Interestingly, this idea of “guaranteed placement” does not appear in the March 2016 Droichead document. It did feature, however, in the Teaching Council announcement about Droichead, in the NIPT Droichead day for Principals in City West recently and in discussions with INTO on Droichead. Why is it not included in this Droichead document for everyone to read? What else is being hidden?)

4.0         Teachers Have Said No To CEPP and No To Droichead:

4.1         Teachers Judging Colleagues:

INTO members have stated repeatedly that we will not judge colleagues, not newly qualified colleagues and not experienced colleagues. Yet this document states that “fellow professionals” (p.2) will make a recommendation that the NQT is / is not ready to move to the next phase of teacher education. Oh no, we won’t!

4.2         Opt-out for Principals / Not in Reality:

Principals have steadfastly stated that they will never “sign off” / judge an NQT. The Teaching Council have given the impression that Principals can opt out of probation / induction, but it is only an illusion. In reality, there is no opt out for Principals, as the following quotes from their Droichead document prove:

  1. “The PST is a team of fully qualified teachers in a school, ideally with five years’ experience, including the principal” (p.4)
  2. A principal may wish to establish a PST, involving internal school staff and one external PST member” (p.4) presumes that the Principal Teacher is the one who is responsible for establishing the PST
  3. “an NQT will have a number of interactions with all members of the PST” (p.4)
  4. The Droichead Quality Assurance (DQA) panel will “discuss the process with the Principal” (p.8)
  5. The principal ensures that the Droichead process has been properly conducted” (p.8)

(Note: bold and underline is our emphasis).

4.2.1      Dangers for the Principal:

There are many. For example, if the school deems the NQT fit to progress to the next phase and the Principal agrees that the process has been conducted properly, what happens next? Will the NQT feel they have a right to future employment in the school, because the school deemed them to be satisfactory? On the other hand, if the NQT is deemed as not being ready to proceed to the next phase, what happens next then? Must the school “keep” the NQT in the guaranteed placement, even though he/she isn’t doing very well? What will parents / pupils themselves in the future have to say about that? Who will be blamed? What will the NQT do if the school refuses to give him / her more time? Sue the school using employment legislation?

4.3         No opt-out for Teachers:

We have more than enough to do to teach our pupils (and all that goes with that). We do not have the time or the resources or the training or the pay to do the Inspectorate’s job as well as our own job. However, this document does not give an opt-out for teachers. In fact, it allows Principal Teachers to delegate much work and responsibility to the other teachers in the school.

4.3.1      We are not Inspectors:

We are not inspectors, as described on page 5: “Other professional conversations will follow observations of the NQT’s practice”. This indicates that teachers will be required to observe the NQT teaching and then give feedback to the NQT. That is the work of the Inspectorate. Indeed page 5 has a sub-heading entitled Observation and Feedback. If written feedback is required, that is a huge time commitment. As we know, paperwork has a tendency to grow, not diminish, once it is introduced onto our workload. The TC document does not specify that the feedback must be written, neither does it say that it need not be written. We all know full well that there must be a paper trail to protect ourselves if we embark on judging NQTs via Droichead. Have we been offered additional pay for this additional work? No, we have not.

4.3.2      We are observed very frequently already:

We are observed by many people already, probably more than any other professional. We have taken on student teachers that have an ever-increasing and extended element of observing our practice. The Educational Psychologist; Occupational Therapist etc…etc…etc… all want to come in and observe us in our classrooms. Now, Droichead expects us to allow NQTs to observe us too. We have never been asked to give our permission, it is just expected.

4.3.3      Droichead Judges and Inspects Experienced Teachers:

Teachers will be judged and inspected during the Droichead process as our reward for taking over the role of the Inspectorate:

  • If we contact the Chief Inspector for support, we will be judged as to whether or not we tried hard enough before we bothered the Inspectorate, who will check that “genuine efforts have been made to engage in the Droichead process” (p.7)
  • Through Droichead Quality Assurance (DQA) visits, we will be judged again. “The DQA panel visits a sample of schools where the Droichead process has taken place” (p.7-8). The DQA will send a “report to the Teaching Council setting out its findings and recommendations” (p. 8).


5.0         Privacy and Confidentiality:

It appears that we are all equal, but some are more equal than others.

5.1         NQTS:

Unfairness and inequality is demonstrated again by the TC when they talk about confidentiality. “NQTs should respect the privacy of others” (p.5), yet the NQTs’ right to confidentiality may not necessarily be respected in return. For example, it is very obvious that the NQT is in trouble if the cigire arrives, as described on page 7. Where is the respect for privacy and confidentiality for the NQT in that instance?

5.2         The PST:

The PST Team is also reminded about confidentiality: “PST members should respect the privacy of others and the confidentiality of information garnered during the course of the process” (p6).

5.3         The Teaching Council:

The Droichead Quality Assurance (DQA) Report will be sent to the Teaching Council. The TC will consider it, possibly ratify it and publish it on the internet, then circulate it to the NIPT and the Inspectorate (p.8). The TC have not reminded the DQA; the TC representatives; the NIPT or the Inspectorate about confidentiality.


6.0         Consistency and Quality Assurance:

Some points on this topic have been made elsewhere in this Report. In addition, it must be noted that the Quality Assurance outlined on pages 7 and 8 is extremely vague. Specifics are needed or there is no assurance.

6.1         Review Mechanism for NQTs:

The review mechanism where NQTs can raise concerns is extremely vague. “A review mechanism is in place where NQTs wish to raise concerns about aspects of the Droichead process” (p.8). What aspects are allowed? What is the precise mechanism? It should be absolutely explicit and clear, to protect all parties.

6.2         Circulation of Data:

The TC document does not mention circulating the DQA Report to the NQTs or to the PSTs. This is another example of disrespect and exclusion.

Why does the TC intend to circulate the DQA Report to the Inspectorate? They have been deemed by the TC not to be “best placed to support them (NQTs) through the induction phase” (p.2).

6.3         Engagement:

Why will the TC engage with the DES on the implementation of this Droichead policy? Why not engage with teachers? Do teachers only exist to carry out the work and have no say in policy?


7.0         Conclusion:

All in all, this document is full of expectations for teachers to undertake extra work, without a mention of extra pay, reward or even a thank you. Teachers are expected to absolve the Colleges of Education; the DES; the Inspectorate; the TC; the NIPT of responsibility and work. A much better idea is as follows:

  1. Teachers have enough work, thank you.
  2. Colleges of Education must qualify student teachers as being fit to begin teaching or fail them.
  3. The End.