Leaving Certificate 2020
On May 8th the Minister for Education and Skills announced that all Leaving Certificate 2020 students will be offered the option of accepting Calculated Grades or sitting Leaving Certificate written examinations at a later date. The announcement follows public health advice and information regarding the implications for holding the exams in late July/ early August.
The ASTI has advised its members to engage with the Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate Students 2020 process in order that students can progress to the next stage of their lives.
JC 2020: Assessment and reporting guidelines
The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, has issued guidelines for schools regarding assessment and reporting on students’ learning at Junior Cycle for 2020.
These guidelines have emerged following recommendations from the Advisory Group for Contingency Planning for State Examinations 2020.
The ASTI welcomes the announcement that students will receive a State Certificate on completion of the Junior Cycle from the Department of Education and Skills. The ASTI had previously called on the Minister to award a State Certificate to this year’s Junior Cycle students.
Today’s statement from the Department of Education and Skills also confirms that all elements of the Junior Certificate are cancelled in 2020. It also makes clear for students that they will have completed their Junior Cycle at the end of May.
ASTI President Deirdre Mac Donald has expressed regret that this year’s cohort of Junior Certificate students will not have the opportunity to sit the examinations as normal:
“The experience of this examination has always been a valuable milestone in the educational experience of Irish students. However, having regard to all the circumstances, the guidelines being issued are the best that can be achieved this year.
“The pressure of sitting examinations that would have enjoyed no credible status would have imposed unnecessary stress on these students whether they were held prior to the summer holidays or in the autumn.
“We believe that the well-being of these students is best served by the freedom to enjoy the summer of 2020 without the pressure of examinations hanging over them.
“I wish to again acknowledge the enormous efforts of teachers, students and school communities in ensuring the continuity of teaching and learning during this pandemic.”
The guidelines set out arrangements whereby schools can report on the learning achievements in Junior Cycle of each student.
ICT grants for schools
Amongst the issues of concern raised by the ASTI in relation to Covid-19 is inequalities in the provision of and access to ICT equipment for students during the school closure period.
In this regard, the Minister for Education and Skills has announced a €7 million Covid-19 ICT funding package for second-level schools to support the purchase of technology and devices. Click here for Statement.
Schools are being asked to prioritise exam classes. A Department Circular outlining the details will be published on the ASTI website as soon as it is available.
The ASTI continues to raise the concerns of ASTI members with the Department of Education and Skills.
Covid-19: Temporary reassignment of education staff
The Department of Education and Skills has issued Circular 0027/2020 on the temporary reassignment of certain staff in the education sector.
The Circular outlines criteria and procedures for the reassignment of staff in the Education Sector. It is Management’s function to consider how best to utilise staff to facilitate the delivery of education and essential support services to students. Any public service staff member who is not required to be retained in providing education and essential support services and has not been medically advised to self-isolate will be available for assignment on a temporary basis to support delivery of other essential public services.
In relation to teachers, the Circular states that the priority is the continuation of students’ learning and the essential delivery of tuition during the school closure period. In this context the ASTI expects that it is unlikely that a significant number of teachers, if any at all, will be reassigned.
Click here for Circular 0027/2020.
Click here for Department of Education and Skills press statement on temporary assignment arrangements for education/ training staff.
Click here for FAQ document on Temporary assignment arrangements for certain staff in the education and training sector
As an employee, am I covered by my school’s insurance/ indemnity while working remotely?
The ASTI has engaged with the Management Bodies for schools on the question of insurance arrangements in the context of teachers.
All the management bodies stated that they had some engagement with relevant insurers in their sector.
All have indicated that the typical policies extend to cover the home working of the school's employees. Teachers should follow best practices/guidelines as they would in normal operational settings and in these changed circumstances that remains the rule.
In the case of Community and Comprehensive Schools they are indemnified by the State. The indemnity states that:
The State shall indemnify the Board and the teaching and non-teaching staff in respect of actions claims or demands taken or made against them arising out of the discharge of their duties whether in respect of pupils or otherwise.
Following representations by ASTI and the other teachers’ unions, the Department of Education has confirmed the following:
If a substitute teacher has been contracted either written or verbally to cover an absence during the school closure period, they will be paid for the period for which they are contracted – for example to cover maternity leave or parental leave.
In relation to teachers who were not contracted to work with a specific employer but who would in the normal course of events have carried out substitution work on a casual basis during the closure period, it has been agreed to extend the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment to such teachers on the following basis:
A substitute teacher will be entitled to the payment if they were in employment immediately before the pandemic. If the teacher has evidence that they worked in March (e.g. payslip) then they are entitled to apply provided they are aged 65 or under and live in the Republic of Ireland.
Where an individual fulfils these criteria, they should apply for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment through www.mywelfare.ie
School meals programme
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has devised updated guidelines for the schools and organisations in the School Meals Programme as they set out to source and supply meals during the extended closures. Click here to read statement.
State Examination oral and practical performance tests cancelled
All oral and practical performance tests of the state examinations which were originally scheduled to take place from Monday 23 March to Friday 3 April 2020 have been cancelled.
On Friday 8th May, the Minister for Education and Skills announced that his previous plan to hold the Leaving Certificate Examinations in late July/August could not now go ahead. This was because the health advice available from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) was such that the plan to do so is no longer viable. Leaving Certificate 2020 is postponed until it is safe to hold the examinations.
He further announced that his intention is to proceed with a calculated grades model of assessment for Leaving Certificate candidates.
The details of the calculated grades model as announced can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/pdf/file=https://assets.gov.ie/74043/96076aa3e16240cc93e2a56a1ea94d75.pdf#page=
Head Office contact details
Due to the covid-19 outbreak, ASTI Head Office is operating normally but remote working is in operation. The contact details are set out below. Every effort will be made to respond promptly and efficiently. Please see list here.
Pay during school closures
Teachers will continue to be paid by the Department of Education and Skills. See Department note on payment of salary/ pension during school closure - click here.
The Department of Education and Skills has implemented remote working for Department staff. This includes the operation of the payroll section. Revised contact details are available here.
There will be delays on the issuing of payslips in the next few weeks due to demands on Revenue staff processing critical correspondence see here for information.
ASTI Convention postponed
ASTI Convention 2020 is being postponed due to COVID-19. The INTO and TUI have also postponed their Easter conferences. See joint statement here.
COVID-19: Special Arrangements
The ASTI is liaising with the Department of Education and Skills in relation to teachers and COVID-19. ASTI members are advised to check the ASTI website on a regular basis and the following Department of Education and Skills webpage - click here.
The Department of Education and Skills has issued Circular 0024/2020 which details special arrangements for teachers during the Covid-19 Delay Phase. This Circular sets arrangements in relation to Restricted Movement, Self-Isolation, and Special Leave with Pay.
Click here for Circular 0024/2020
Circular 0024/2020 supersedes Circular 0020/2020.
Keeping well in challenging times
The Department of Education and Skills operates an Employee Assistance Service for the 55,000 teachers in the country. The scheme is run by Inspire Workplace Services (formerly Carecall), which provides a 24 hour 7 day help line for teachers.
The Employment Assistance Service helpline can be contacted on 1800 411 057
The ASTI along with TUI and INTO had been seeking such a service for many years. Under Health & Safety legislation employers have a duty of care for their employers and this service is funded by the Department to address part of that duty.
Teachers who are experiencing personal and work-related problems e.g. health, relationships, addictions, bereavements, stress, trauma etc will now be able to get direct access to advice. Where appropriate this may involve free short term confidential one-to-one counselling.
Further information on the service is attainable from ASTI. More information is available here.
Department of Education and Skills: COVID-19 announcements - Click here.
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidance note for HR in the Civil and Public Service - Click here.
ASTI President and General Secretary statement to members re. Covid-19 - Click here.
Circular Letter 0024/2020 - Coronavirus (COVID-19) Delay Phase Arrangements for Teachers and Special Needs Assistants employed in recognised primary and post primary schools - Click here.
For ASTI FAQs click here.
Click here for Irish Congress of Trade Unions web page on safe working during Covid-19