Teachers hit out at inspectors over industrial action

NITC chair and Ulster Teachers' Union general secretary Avril Hall Callaghan

TEACHERS returning to pay talks with employers have hit out at the schools' inspectorate, accusing it of downplaying industrial action.

Classroom staff are refusing to cooperate with the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) as part of action short of strike involving all main teaching unions.

They are angry, having rejected a pay offer that would see them receive no across the board pay rise for 2015/16, and a 1 per cent cost of living uplift for 2016/17.

Since the action began, inspectors have begun visits and reported as usual, but many reports have gaps and contain no overall inspection grade.

The unions have now reopened pay negotiations but are unhappy, however, at the ETI's assessment of the industrial action so far.

In a `frequently asked questions' document about inspections with action short of strike, the ETI said "a significant number of schools are cooperating with inspection in the normal way, in the best interests of the children".

"Boards of governors, in most cases of inspection, are cooperating with ETI," it added.

"Almost all schools and governors recognise their legal responsibilities in relation to safeguarding, and have cooperated with ETI - most at the time of the inspection or, in a small number of cases, at the six week safeguarding follow-up visit."

Members of the Northern Ireland Teachers' Council (NITC) said governors were being given the impression that teachers were not complying with action.

NITC chair and Ulster Teachers' Union general secretary Avril Hall Callaghan said "this is clearly not the case".

"As a result, NITC has decided to extend its request to all teachers, principals and vice principals who have made themselves available to the ETI as associate inspectors to withdraw from the role," she said.

"We have now re-opened negotiations with the employers regarding pay and workload and it is important that they are aware that teachers fully back this, particularly our issues with the inspection process."

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