Schools Policies




Assessment in State Certificate Examinations

ASTI policy on assessment in the State certificate examinations was first formulated in 1988. Convention motion 156 stated that:

“The ASTI rejects any extension of the use of school-based assessment for certification purposes in the national examination system.”

The ASTI policy on assessment is based on the principle that assessment in the State certificate examinations should be valid, objective and equitable. There should be a variety of techniques of assessment to evaluate the student’s level of skills and test the student’s knowledge in each subject

The ASTI supports the use of orals, aurals and assessment of practical and project work in the State certificate examinations provided that these techniques involve external setting of questions, external administration, and external marking.

The ASTI insists on these conditions for the following reasons:

  1. The setting, administration and marking of the examinations must be perceived by pupils, parents, employers, training agencies and third level colleges to be totally objective and impartial.
  2. It is the view of the ASTI that the use of school-based assessment by the pupil’s own teacher for certification purposes has negative consequences for teaching time, the role of the teacher and the pupil-teacher-parent relationship.
  3. The introduction of school-based assessment by the pupil’s own teacher for certification purposes would undermine the perception of the teacher by the pupil as an advocate rather than as a judge in terms of nationally certified examinations.
  4. External assessment for certification in Ireland has proved its worth in an educational system characterised by excellent standards and sound educational and human values. The superimposing of school-based assessment by the pupils’ own teacher for certification into Irish educational culture and tradition, just because it is practiced in other countries, is an unsound argument.

ASTI Policy on Classroom-Based Assessments in the Framework for Junior Cycle

Convention 2016 passed the following motion:

“That ASTI members refuse to assess their own students for school certification (the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement)”

Motion 67 – That ASTI members refuse to assess their own students for school certification. (the JC profile of achievement) this is now policy and is currently being implemented under the directive).

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Class Sizes 

In accordance with the ASTI directive on class size the following are the maximum class sizes which should be permitted in schools:

Home Economics 20
Art 24
Agricultural Science 24
Computer Studies 24
Construction Studies 24
Engineering 24
Leaving Cert Applied 24
Leaving Cert Vocational Programme 24
Leaving Certificate Physical Education 24
Materials Technology (wood) 24
Metalwork 24
Music 24
Science 24
Technical Drawing 24
Technical Graphics 24
Technology 24
Transition Year Programme 24
All other classes 30

This directive will help to:

  • foster good teaching practice
  • encourage positive classroom relationships
  • assist school discipline
  • enhance standards of education
  • retain teaching positions

It should be noted that the Department of Education and Science has no recommended class sizes and there are no legal liabilities on a teacher in relation to this matter. Such liabilities are a matter for the employer who has to ensure that pupils are given an adequate duty of care.

If a school is experiencing a difficulty with regard to the class size directive the School Steward should raise the matter with the Principal and seek a resolution.

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Health & Safety

Every teacher has a right to work in an environment that is both Healthy and Safe. The ASTI is seeking to ensure that school employers and employees alike accept responsibility for safety in schools.

Your school should have:

Safety Statement
It is a legal requirement that the management of each workplace produces a Safety Statement. Has your school got an adequate Safety Statement? If not, the staff should bring this requirement to the immediate attention of the Board of Management.

Safety Representative
Each school staff should elect a Safety Representative to act on their behalf in matters of Health and Safety. Every staff group should by Monday, 24 October elect a Safety Representative.

The ASTI provides regional Health and Safety training for Safety Representatives. The ASTI also provides each Safety Representatives with a Health and Safety Handbook setting out their role/duties/guidelines and relevant information.

It is a legal requirement that employers consult with their employees on matters of Health and Safety. ASTI members should insist that Health and Safety is discussed at staff meetings on a regular basis and that Health and Safety procedures are reviewed at least once a year.

Evacuation and Emergency Drills save lives. ASTI members should insist that drills are held in 100% of schools on a regular basis.

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Grinds Schools 

The ASTI does not represent grinds schools for the following reasons: 

  • Grinds schools are only available to those who can afford to pay their fees.
  • Grinds schools focus on exam techniques and the cramming of information, rather than on a holistic education which values the whole person.
  • Grinds schools set up narrow, non-educational goals for students and by so doing may make the broader educational task of the ordinary school impossible to achieve.
  • Grinds schools offer 'crash courses' which merely repeat what is offered in ordinary schools.
  • Grinds schools promote a false impression that pupils need to attend a grinds school in order to achieve their potential. There is no evidence for this.

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League Tables

The ASTI is opposed to the publication of school league tables of Department of Education and Skills examination results. League tables do not tell us anything about the performance of schools and are not a valid measure of school effectiveness.

The ASTI believes that such selective and simplistic information puts schools under pressure to jettison those aspects of education provision which do not contribute to an improvement in a position on the league table, and thus there is a danger that education will tend towards the easily measured with the consequent impoverishment of education and neglect of the pastoral, social, caring, cultural and physical dimension.

University Entry Tables
In recent times certain newspapers have published university entry tables for a select number of third level institutions. This narrow focus is damaging not only to hundreds and thousands of students who work hard to reach their potential but also to the education system and Irish society as a whole. 

Leagues tables of examination results or enrolments to particular universities do not take into account the pupil intake of the school. This means they ignore factors such as the education attainment of pupils on entry, the proportion of pupils with special educational needs, or the socio-economic backgrounds of pupils. Schools which directly or indirectly operate selection mechanisms at entry will do better in league tables whilst schools with no selective policies and a wide student cohort may appear under this blunt process as under performing. 

The core objective of education is to help every student develop as an individual. The publication of selective information such as league tables and college entry tables violates the principle of treating all students equally in that one aspect of a person’s ability or talents is prioritised above all others. There is therefore a growing danger that schools will prioritise the work that contributes to examination results at the expense of working with students whose strengths lies elsewhere.

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