On Friday, August 1, Philip Irwin, a teacher at the High School, Rathgar, Dublin, and originally from Cashel, assumed the role of the President of the ASTI – Ireland’s largest second-level teachers’ union.
Philip’s key priority for the coming year is to ensure that education reform serves to enhance Ireland’s second-level education service while maintaining standards.
“The Framework for Junior Cycle due to be implemented for first-year students from this September will see the Junior Cert state exam replaced by a school-based award based on grades given by students’ own teachers. This deeply flawed decision will undermine education standards in our schools and is opposed by teachers and parents. The key objectives for teachers are the retention of external assessment and state certification at an important medium point for second-level students.”
Mr Irwin said another priority for his presidency is addressing the lack of job security for young second-level teachers. “There has been a growing crisis in the second-level teaching profession with approximately one in three teachers now in temporary positions. Many of these teachers experience the double whammy of not being able to secure fulltime teaching hours. A traditional strength of the system in Ireland has been the lifelong commitment of teachers to their schools and communities. This cannot be sustained with a temporary workforce. The vast majority of second-level teachers spend up 10 years going from contract to contract and school to school trying to achieve secure employment.”
Philip Irwin is originally from Cashel. He teaches History, Geography and CSPE (Civic, Social and Political Education). He is also involved in Cross Country Athletics for young people.