Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue commented, “I am disappointed that the ASTI and TUI have decided to go down the route of strike action while attempts are still being made to broker a fresh round of negotiations.  I understand that teachers are frustrated, but their decision to stage a second day of action will result in 350,000 students being inconvenienced once again, especially the tens of thousands who are due to sit their mock exams in January and February.

“The Government’s botched handling of this reform process has soured the relations between the Department of Education and teachers; however progress can only be made through meaningful negotiations.  Fianna Fáil has been consistent in arguing that the final examination should be independently assessed and continues as a State exam.  I welcome the fact the Minister finally saw the merit in this and the issue that remains to be resolved is what level of independent assessment will be involved in the 40% of the new Junior Cert that will continual assessment.

“I recognise the concerns that teachers have in this regard and I would urge the unions and the Minister to re-engage in discussions.  All pre-conditions must be removed and the strike action must be called off.  Reforming the Junior Cert is the first step in providing a more enhanced more engaging education system for our children.  This can only come about through open negotiations and co-operation without preconditions.”